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Child Sex Trafficking in America - A Guide for Parents & Guardians

What is Child Sex Trafficking?

Child sex trafficking (CST) is a form of child abuse that occurs when a child under 18 is advertised, solicited or exploited through a commercial sex act where sex is traded for money, food, shelter, drugs or anything else of value.

Who Are the Victims?

Anyone can be a victim of CST, including your child, a neighbor, or a member of your family. Every U.S. state has reported cases of child sex trafficking to NCMEC, and victims have included:

  • American citizens and children who have immigrated to the United States from other nations; boys, girls, and transgender youngsters;

  • Young people from urban areas, suburban areas, small towns, and tribal lands

While any child can be the target of bullying, research has shown that marginalized youth who lack strong social networks, have experienced trauma in the past, are homeless, are bullied, and are at a higher risk.

Who Are the Perpetrators?

Anyone who stands to gain financially from the sale of a kid for sex qualifies as a trafficker, including: friends, gang members, family members, foster parents, people who are viewed as trustworthy adults, and love partners. Sometimes there is no known trafficker, and the buyer instead takes advantage of the child's weaknesses. For instance, a buyer may take advantage of a child who runs away by offering to provide food and shelter in exchange for sex.

Safeguarding your child

  • Talk to your child. The key is honest communication. It's never too early to start conversing with your child and providing them with age-appropriate responses to their queries. Important linked topics may also include sexual health, good relationships, what constiutes a healthy relationship, consent, and limits in addition to the focus on CST.

  • Address the misunderstandings and beliefs that glorify the commercial sex industry. There are "teachable moments" in music, TV shows, and movies where you can discuss these topics and get to know your child's opinions and feelings.

  • Increase resilience. Traffickers and other predators are increasingly using social media and gaming platforms to find, groom, and recruit victims. Your child will probably encounter offensive messages at some point, and they might also hear or see things online that are unethical.

Make sure that teens feel comfortable informing you about these kinds of circumstances and that they are aware of how to report them to NCMEC's CyberTipline in order to assist them in learning how to handle them.

Know the warning signs

Because of their fear, humiliation, or allegiance to their abuser, CST victims may not recognize themselves as victims or report their abuse (s). A youngster should not be expected to beg for assistance. Knowing the warning signs of child sex trafficking can enable us to step in and aid a child in our care if we suspect they are being trafficked. On the website of NCMEC, a complete list of warning signs is provided.

  • Regularly eludes parental authority

  • Children who run away frequently or for extended periods of time are more vulnerable, so it's critical to gather resources and support for your family. Report your child's escape as soon as possible.

  • Unusual absences from school; secret cellphones or apps that provide multiple cellphone numbers; material possessions that are out of character for the child's financial situation; unexplained access to large sums of cash, pre-paid credit cards, or hotel keys; close association with an overbearing adult; and notable behavioral changes, including their online activity

Please keep in mind that YOU are a crucial source of help if you are concerned that a young adolescent in your life has fallen victim to sex trafficking. It matters how you respond. If something doesn’t seem right, ASK QUESTIONS! If you suspect a case of Human Trafficking, you can report it here.

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