Sex trafficking of minors (child sex trafficking) is the commercial sexual abuse of minors. It usually occurs when someone advertises sexual services of a minor, or offers something of value (money, food, drugs) to a minor or for a minor in exchange for sexual activity from or to the minor in any form, which could include sex, pornography or masturbation. Some of these activities could be only online.
The transaction may be friendly, forced or coerced, and it may or may not involve transferring a minor over state or country borders. The trafficker could be a stranger, but it may more likely be someone the person knows like family, a friend or intimate partner.
Minors at higher risk for being trafficked include runaways, those in the foster system, and members of the LGBT or minority communities. Abuse, homelessness, and poverty are other factors that may make a minor susceptible. Not every minor is held against their will, and some may continue to go to school or participate in order to receive food and shelter.
Educating parents about the potential ways traffickers engage with minors, recognizing the warning signs, and understanding the susceptible communities may be among the ways to prevent or save a minor from sex trafficking.
The sourced articles below may provide more information on preventing sex trafficking of minors.
- Ultimate Guide To Child Sex Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sextortion, & Online Enticement
“Talk with your children about online safety:
– Teach them the difference between appropriate and inappropriate content
– Be specific about what is off-limits
– Set a rule that they can only be online ‘friends’ with people they know in real life
– Talk about the dangers of oversharing and keeping personal details (address, location, birthday, etc) private
– Remind them their online actions can have consequences
– Have everyone in your family abide by the guidelines you set in a Family Social Media Agreement
– Tell your kids they can always come to you or a trusted adult if they ever experience anything inappropriate or troubling online”
SmartSocial.com, smartsocial.com, accessed 6/29/2022
- Report Trafficking Activity And Abusive Content
“Technology has allowed for the proliferation of online sex trafficking and the abusive content that can often accompany it. If you come across any of this content, you have friends in this fight. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Kids (NCMEC) acts as the national clearinghouse and reporting center for child victimization, including fielding over 10,000 reports of child sex trafficking last year alone. … Even if you don’t have anything to report, sharing the above numbers with your social networks can help to raise awareness of these options. 90% of minor sex trafficking victims reported that they still had access to social media during their abuse. You never know who you might reach with critical help.”
Thorn, thorn.org, accessed 6/29/2022
- Child Sex Trafficking: Who Is Vulnerable to Being Trafficked?
“Sex trafficking occurs among all socioeconomic classes, races, ethnicities, and gender identities in urban, suburban, rural communities, and on land-based nations and other tribal communities across the U.S. However, some youth are at heightened risk due to a complex interplay of societal, community, relationship, and individual factors. … The trafficking risk associated with child welfare involvement is sometimes related to the traumatic experiences (child sexual abuse, child physical abuse, neglect) that may have precipitated a child’s or adolescent’s entry into the system. … LGBTQ+ youth … Economic factors and poverty appear to be important elements of trafficking vulnerability. … In the United States, Black, Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islander youth are especially vulnerable to trafficking due to the particular histories of oppression and exploitation, including the sexualization, objectification, and fetishization of these girls. … Youth who have disabilities … Immigrant and refugee children … Familial trafficking involves the intentional or unwitting exploitation of children/youth by individuals who are responsible for the care …”
National Child Traumatic Stress Network, nctsn.org, accessed 6/29/2022
- How Can We Prevent Sex Trafficking?
“Sex trafficking is preventable. Efforts have focused on increasing community awareness of human trafficking and addressing exploitation after it occurs. … More research is needed to evaluate programs and policies that help reduce factors that put people at risk in order to help prevent trafficking before it occurs. Strategies based on the best available evidence exist to prevent related forms of violence, and they may also reduce sex trafficking. States and communities can implement and evaluate efforts that:
– encourage healthy behaviors in relationships
– foster safe homes and neighborhoods
– identify and address vulnerabilities during health care visits
– reduce demand for commercial sex
– end business profits from trafficking-related transactions …”
Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov, last reviewed 2/4/2022
- Emerging From The Shadows
“How children can keep themselves safe from labor and sex trafficking:
– Use safe online practices.
– Never share personal information online.
– Do not accept social media requests from unknown people.
– Never share inappropriate/explicit pictures.
– Never plan to meet someone they have met via social media in person or in a private location.
– Do not make decisions under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
– Look for signs of abusive or possessive behaviors. Is the person trying to isolate or turn them against your friends or family? If so, avoid that person.
– Ask lots of questions. Someone looking for a legitimate employee will thoroughly answer questions and provide documentation of the employment opportunity in writing.
– If someone promises something that seems too good to be true in return for sex or work, be very cautious.
— Listen to your instincts and seek advice from family and friends. …”
The Center for Prevention of Abuse, centerforpreventionofabuse.org, 1/2021
- Human Trafficking Prevention Month At CASA: How Everyone In Our Community Can Keep Kids Safe
“‘Finding reputable organizations who are working with youth and good mentoring programs is a great start. Trafficking has become a buzz word, so I think it’s important to do your research and make sure that the organizations you support really keep kids safe. The more we can make sure a child has access to a healthy adult in their life, basic needs, and normalcy, like music lessons and sports—those are all protective factors that kids in the system are often denied. It costs nothing to have a healthy relationship with your friend’s kids. And then if you’re able to volunteer or provide financial help to organizations, that’s worthwhile as well. If you think of every child as a potential victim and protect them, that can go pretty far. [Emily LeBlanc, CASA of Travis County’s Chief Program Officer]’”
Emily Witt, CASA of Travis County, Texas, casatravis.org, 1/27/2021
- Protecting Children From Sex Trafficking: A Conversation With Kelly Mangiaracina, JD
“How can people get involved to help advance prevention?
You can help with your time, your position or influence, your money, or by spreading awareness. If you’d like to help with your time and work or volunteer with an organization in the field of child sex trafficking prevention, then get to know the reality, not the sensationalism. Get trained on the issue by a reputable organization. If you want to help with your position or influence, there are a couple options. First, consider becoming a foster family. One of the biggest risk factors of a child being sex trafficked is having spent time in the child welfare system. A nurturing, stable home provides a strong antidote that can protect children. Second, fight for legislation that protects children and provides funding for needed services. Use your voice to create change. If you can’t help with your time, position, or influence, consider opening your wallet. Many organizations working in this space do so with very modest means. If nothing else, share this conversation with others. …”
Jordan Posamentier, Committee for Children, cfchildren.org, 1/5/2021
- Preventing Child Sex Trafficking
“Recognizing the warning signs of child sex trafficking increases the ability to identify potential victims and provide help. Some red flags include: unexplained school absences; the presence of multiple cell phones, burner phones or erased call logs; multiple fake IDs; a young person appearing malnourished or hungry, or dressed inappropriately for weather conditions; bruises or other signs of physical trauma; signs of drug addiction; and, presence of a noticeably older, controlling or abusive ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend.’”
Child & Club Safety & Youth Development teams, Official Site of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, bgca.org, 12/3/2019
- Prevent Child Trafficking
“Preventing CSEC is possible through adult education. Many victims of child trafficking live at home and attend school. Despite the exploitation, these children still interact with educators, youth-serving professionals, doctors, and the public every day. Training neighbors, teachers, and youth-serving professionals to recognize the signs and intervene can help end commercial exploitation for some children. It will also help ensure that these victims receive services they need.”
Darkness to Light, d2l.org, 1/4/2019
- An Advocate’s Guide To Protecting Trafficking Victims In The Child Welfare System
“One survivor noted: ‘Being in foster care was the perfect training for commercial sexual exploitation. I was used to being moved without warning, without any say, not knowing where I was going or whether I was allowed to pack my clothes. After years in foster care, I didn’t think anyone would want to take care of me unless they were paid. So, when my pimp expected me to make money to support ‘the family,’ it made sense to me.’”
Allison Newcombe, allianceforchildrensrights.org, 10/2015