Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) sex trafficking requires force, fraud or coercion UNLESS the victim is a minor. Any minor used in a commercial sex act (the exchange of any item of value for a sex act) IS a victim of trafficking, regardless of their willingness or desire to engage in the sex act.
Why don’t victims escape when they have the opportunity?
Traffickers and pimps use physical, emotional and psychological abuse to coerce young women and girls into a life of sex trafficking. Traffickers are master manipulators and employ tactics to create a trauma bond between the victim and trafficker. Traffickers often use the threat of violence against victim or a victim’s loved one to secure their submission.
Age is the primary factor of vulnerability. Pre-teen or adolescent girls are more susceptible to the calculated advances, deception, and manipulation tactics used by traffickers/pimps – no youth is exempt from falling prey to these tactics. Traffickers target locations youth frequent such as schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters and group homes. Runaway or homeless youth as well as those with a history of physical and sexual abuse have an increased risk of being trafficked.
Educate yourself and others on these critical warning signs:
1. An older boyfriend.
2. A new tatoo with a name or money symbol.
3. New expensive clothing or items the child would not normally be able to afford.
4. Unexplained absences from school.
5. Signs of physical abuse such as burns or bruises.
Did you know that pornography and stripping are often doorways to trafficking? 1 out of every 5 pornographic images is of a child; and 55% of child pornography comes from the U.S. The sale of child pornography in the U.S. has become more than a $3 billion annual industry. In a study of 932 sex addicts, 90% of the men, and 77% of the women indicated that looking at pornography “played a significant role in their addiction. Viewing pornography essentially rewires the brain and drastically influences how dopamine and other chemicals are received and used in the brain (see “Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain”).
So what should you do is you know someone or witness a situation where you suspect a child is in danger of being trafficked?
Report it immediately! You can always report by calling 911, but here is another great resource:
National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.