What is child sex trafficking?
Every day in America children are being sold as prostitutes to fulfill the demands of an eager market driven primarily by men of all ages and professions. The trucking community is no exception.
Legally, these children are defined by the Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act as child sex trafficking victims. In the U.S., any minor under 18 years old who is induced to perform any sex act in exchange for any item of value is a trafficking victim. While many people believe that individuals are at truck stops on their own free will, trafficking is often mistaken as prostitution.
Who are the victims?
In the United States, child sex trafficking has come to light as a critical problem, with 100,000 children being exploited every year. The defining factor in domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) is the age of the victim: all of them are children, under the age of 18 and unable to give consent to these acts. Unfortunately, this population is one of the easiest to influence. Trafficking victims are not typically targeted because of their age, race, body type or socioeconomic status. Traffickers target victims they believe are most vulnerable and easy to manipulate. A highly vulnerable population of children includes those who have previous history of sexual abuse or children who run away, leaving difficult and often abusive situations, and are left to care for themselves on the street. From this point, pimps or traffickers will manipulate them through physical and psychological control to perform sexual acts for money. This is where child sex trafficking begins.
Indicators of Trafficking in the Trucking Industry:
Oftentimes, traffickers are transporting prostituted children, making it harder for them to seek help or escape. Truck stops are not only convenient stops, but they also provide a place slightly secluded from public view. Truck Stops are opportunities to pick up, drop off, or stop for paid sex with prostituted girls. These girls are known as “Lot Lizards” in the trucking community. Though most of the trucking industry is not involved in the sex trade, there unfortunately are consumers that fuel the trafficking. It has been reported that buyers use indicators such as stickers, flashing headlights, and code words such as “commercial” to indicate their interest. Massage parlors located at truck stops have also been knowns to be covers for sex trafficking businesses.
How to Help:
1. Stay Alert to Suspicious Activity and Report Trafficking
Watch for young teenage girls or boys lingering around truck stops or entering and exiting trucks.
Listen to the conversation on the CB radio and stay alert for code words like “lot lizard” or “Commercial Company.” Also listen for anyone using cryptic descriptions of a child, rates or sex acts they are looking for.
Report any indicators of trafficking, regardless of how minor the indicator may seem, to one of the tip lines listed here.
2. Become a Defender. The Defenders USA is a group of men who pledge to refrain from participating in any form of the commercial sex industry. Become a member to receive special access to educational tools and resources and meet others who are determined to end the demand for the child sex trade.
3. Learn about the issue. Learn more about child sex trafficking in America by ordering your copy of Renting Lacy: A Story of America’s Prostituted Children today! This riveting account exposes the dark underworld of the trafficking industry through the stories of those who live there. Available in paperback, e-book, or audio book so you can listen on the road!