Human trafficking affects the most vulnerable in our society: children.
No matter where you live, chances are child sex trafficking is happening nearby. Sex trafficking, a type of human trafficking, is when someone is traded for the purpose of sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, and 5.4 million of them are children.1
Some victims are sold for sex by their parents or family members, some are lured with false promises of jobs, and some become romantically involved with someone who exploits them. Traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars globally each year.
What is commercial sexual exploitation of children?
Sex trafficking includes the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and occurs when individuals buy, trade, or sell sexual acts with a child. Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates 1 out of 7 endangered runaways were likely child sex trafficking victims.2
What can we do about it?
Often, CSEC is viewed differently than child sexual abuse. However, CSEC is actually a form of child sexual abuse. It is estimated that 70-90% of children who are sexually trafficked, were sexually abused in a non-commercial manner prior to being trafficked.3 This link shows that if we can prevent or intervene early in child sexual abuse, we can interrupt the path to CSEC.
Preventing CSEC is possible when adults are educated and are able to recognize the signs of abuse. Many victims of CSEC live at home and attend school. Despite the exploitation, these children still interact with educators, youth-serving professionals, and the public every day. Training community members, teachers, and youth-serving professionals to recognize the signs and intervene can help thwart the progression of commercial exploitation for some children, and will help ensure that these victims receive services they need.
For the month of January, you can access Darkness to Light’s Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children training at no cost. You will learn about the root cause of commercial sexual exploitation and why preventing sexual abuse is important to reducing the risk of children being sexually exploited. This training is an hour and can be taken online here. Feel free to share with your friends!
3. National Institute of Justice. (2007) Commercial sexual exploitation of children: What do we know and what do we do about it? (Publication NCJ 215733). US Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs.
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