Child sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, or advertising of a minor child for the purpose of a commercial sex act, which involves the exchange of anything of value – such as money, drugs or a place to stay – for sexual activity.
Child trafficking victims. The phrase alone invokes images and situations too devastating to comprehend. We imagine back alleys in far away lands, the underdeveloped and ungoverned backwater areas of the world, areas that are a universe away from the more civilized United States.
But the truth is much different and closer to home than you can imagine. Of the 300,000 children taken globally each year for the sex trafficking industry, 17,000 of those children will be from the United States. They are taken from suburban backyards, busy city streets, and rural areas. They come from families of all income levels, classes, demographics, and religious beliefs. Some of these children may have once shared classes with your own children, played on the same playgrounds, and walked the same trails. Just like cancer, child trafficking knows no socio boundaries.
Methods used for trafficking have evolved with technology. Traffickers no longer have to pursue children on the streets – today, they have found the internet to be an effective tool in finding new victims. These predators know that children are present on nearly all social media networks with limited parental monitoring. Traffickers lie, deceive, and manipulate young people into situations that quickly escalate beyond their control. Traffickers commonly pose as friends, peers, and attractive members of the opposite sex. These predators regularly find new ways to lure our children into unsafe situations where they can immediately be taken and sold into the sex trafficking industry.
Appears anxious, fearful or paranoid and avoids eye contact.
• Appears fearful of law enforcement or authorities.
• Communication seems scripted and/or they provide inconsistent answers.
• Afraid to discuss themselves around others.
• Someone frequently answers on their behalf.
• Never alone, is unable to move freely, and is closely watched or followed.
• Seen entering and leaving a house with covered windows at odd hours.
• Seen entering and leaving paneled vans or blacked-out vehicles.
• Has no identification, such as a license or ID.
• Appears destitute/lacking personal possessions.
• Not dressed appropriately for the environment or route of travel.
• Has tattoo featuring a bar code or the word “Daddy”.
Children being trafficked might also be dressed in a sexualized manner or appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They might also appear to be malnourished with signs of physical or sexual abuse, bruises, scars or cigarette burns.