Child sex trafficking is a form of child abuse that occurs when a child under 18 is advertised, solicited or exploited through a commercial sex act. A commercial sex act is any sex act where something of value – such as money, food, drugs or a place to stay – is given to or received by any person for sexual activity.
While any child can be targeted by a trafficker, research, data and survivor lived experience and expertise have revealed traffickers and buyers often target youth who lack strong support networks, have experienced violence in the past, are experiencing homelessness, or are marginalized by society. When youth feel like they are not loved, supported in their identity and voice, or like they don’t belong they become ever more vulnerable to unsafe situations. Traffickers are masters of manipulation and prey upon vulnerabilities using psychological pressure, false promises actions of perceived love/support and intimidation to control and sexually exploit the child for their benefit. The issue of child sex trafficking is complex. Understanding the various forms of child sex trafficking and indicators can create opportunities for prevention, identification, and response. Most importantly NCMEC embraces and encourages all efforts on this issue to be survivor-informed, child-centered, and trauma-informed.
Below are some examples of child sex trafficking:
Child sex trafficking can have devastating immediate and long-term consequences, including health impacts, psychological and physical trauma and even death.
Prevention, education and intervention are key to keeping children safer. After making a missing child report to law enforcement we encourage law enforcement, parents, and legal guardians to report ALL missing children, especially children who have run away, to NCMEC by calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). Next, if you are concerned about potential child sex trafficking activity or see situations including the indicators listed below please make a report to NCMEC’s CyberTipline or call 1-800-THE-LOST.