Often referred to as Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), Child Trafficking, or Domestic Minors Sex Trafficking (DMST), CSEC is any sexual act involving a child in exchange for something of value, i.e. money, food, clothing, shelter, etc.

Who is at Risk?

Studies show that a large majority of survivors of sex trafficking have a history of child abuse. Without intervention and therapy, a child that has suffered from abuse will struggle with the vulnerabilities that a trafficker will look for:

  • Viewing themselves as a sexual object
  • Linking love with sex
  • Linking sex with rewards
  • Feeling unloved
  • Feeling unsafe or out of control in their own life
  • Feeling like they don’t belong

Other Risk Factors for CSEC Include:

  • Runaways
  • Substance abuse
  • Low self-esteem
  • Mental health issues
  • Gang involvement

Recruiting Areas:

  • Online
  • ​Social networks
  • Schools
  • Malls
  • Bus ​stations
  • Foster homes or Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs)
  • Homeless shelters
  • Juvenile detention facilities

Children are lured with the promise of protection, love, adventure, home, family, money, or opportunity. Pimps/traffickers will then use threats, violence, intimidation, and fear in order to maintain control and compliance of the victim.

Signs a Child is possibly being Commercially Exploited:

  • Gifts from unknown source
  • Few or no personal possessions or displaying new expensive clothes, accessories, or shoes
  • Motel room keys
  • Fake IDs
  • Going by a new nickname
  • Barcode or ownership tattoos
  • Drug use
  • Lies about age
  • Sudden shift in behavior, dress, friend group, or belongings
  • High number of sex partners for their age or talking about sexual situations beyond age-group norms
  • Frequently truant
  • Frequent runaway
  • Hungry, malnourished, or inadequately dressed for the weather
  • Has a “boyfriend” who is significantly older
  • Overly tired in class or sleeping a lot during the day

What You Can Do:

  • Teach your child about CSEC so they can understand what it is and avoid dangerous situations
  • If you see something suspicious, report it to the National Trafficking Hotline 1.888.373.7888, Department of Family and Protective Services ​1.800.252.5400, or local law enforcement
  • Mentor a child: Many survivors of trafficking have expressed that as unfortunate as the situation was, the most consistent relationship they ever had growing up was with their pimp and the pimp’s family. Find ways in your community of providing intervention or becoming a mentor to an at-risk child.
  • Support your local Children’s Advocacy Center: Most centers provide therapy for a victim of abuse. This helps mitigate vulnerabilities of a formerly abused youth as discussed above. Help those who are already helping the children who are most vulnerable.