FAQs

Is child sex trafficking happening in the United States?

YES. Domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST), which is the commercial sexual exploitation of children through buying, selling, or trading their sexual services, is happening in the United States. Forms of DMST include prostitution, pornography, stripping and other sexual acts.

What is sex trafficking?

Sex trafficking is when a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion OR when the person induced to perform the act is under 18 years old. A commercial sex act means any item of value is traded for any sexual service (prostitution, pornography, or sexual performance). Domestic minor sex trafficking is the commercial sexual exploitation of American children within U.S. borders for monetary or other compensation (shelter, food, drugs, etc.). This is synonymous with child sex slavery, sex slavery, child sex trafficking, prostitution of children, and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). 

How big is the problem of child sex trafficking in America?

At least 100,000 American children are being exploited through pornography or prostitution every year.

How old are the children exploited through sex trafficking in the United States?

The age of trafficked children vary. The average age a child is first exploited through prostitution is 13 years old, though children as young as infants have been identified in pornography.

What about the girls who choose prostitution? Are they victims of trafficking too?

Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) sex trafficking requires force, fraud or coercion UNLESS the victim is a minor. Any minor used in a commercial sex act (the exchange of any item of value for a sex act) IS a victim of trafficking, regardless of their willingness or desire to engage in the sex act.

Why don’t victims escape when they have the opportunity?

Traffickers and pimps use physical, emotional and psychological abuse to coerce young women and girls into a life of sex trafficking. Traffickers are master manipulators and employ tactics to create a trauma bond between the victim and trafficker. Traffickers often use the threat of violence against victim or a victim’s loved one to secure their submission.

How do traffickers or pimps recruit victims?

Many pimps often use a “lover-boy” technique to recruit girls from middle and high schools. A lover-boy will present himself as a boyfriend and woo the girl with gifts, promises of fulfilled dreams, protection, adventure – whatever she perceives she is lacking. After securing her love and loyalty, he will force her into prostitution.

What makes a child vulnerable to child sex trafficking?

Age. Age is the primary factor of vulnerability. Pre-teen or adolescent girls are more susceptible to the calculated advances, deception, and manipulation tactics used by traffickers/pimps – no youth is exempt from falling prey to these tactics. Traffickers target locations youth frequent such as schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters and group homes. Runaway or homeless youth as well as those with a history of physical and sexual abuse have an increased risk of being trafficked.

What is the difference between a trafficker and a pimp?

Nothing. A pimp is another name for a trafficker. A pimp or trafficker is anyone who profits from the commercial sexual exploitation of a minor

Who buys sex?

The buyers of sex from juveniles can be anyone – professionals, students, tourists, military personnel, a family member. They can be Hall of Fame football stars like Lawrence Taylor, business leaders like Sunflower Markets CEO Michael Gilliland, or politicians like former New York Governor Elliott Spitzer. Because buyers often pay in cash and may interact with a victim for as little as five minutes, buyers are increasingly difficult to identify.

What is the difference between human smuggling and human trafficking?

Human smuggling is a crime against a country by transporting an item deemed illegal by the destination country into the country. Human trafficking is a crime against a person by using force, fraud or coercion to induce a commercial sex act or labor.

How does pornography affect the trafficking industry?

1 out of every 5 pornographic images is of a child; and 55% of child pornography comes from the U.S.  The sale of child pornography in the U.S. has become more than a $3 billion annual industry. In a study of 932 sex addicts, 90% of the men, and 77% of the women indicated that looking at pornography “played a significant role in their addiction. Viewing pornography essentially rewires the brain and drastically influences how dopamine and other chemicals are received and used in the brain  (see “Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain“).

What if someone I know is being groomed for trafficking or is being trafficked?

 

Visit sharedhope.org/learn/report-trafficking/ to learn the signs and find out where to report trafficking.

Infographic: Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)

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