US Is a Top Destination for Child Sex Trafficking, and It’s Happening in Your Community

US Is a Top Destination for Child Sex Trafficking, and It’s Happening in Your Community

The most vulnerable children in the United States are those raised in single-parent homes, especially if an unrelated male is present. Children are 11 times more likely to suffer sexual and physical abuse in such situations. Without the protection of a mother and father in the home, children are more likely to run away, go missing, or spend time in the foster care system. In 2016, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found that 86% of sex trafficking victims were in the care of social services when they went missing.

Kara was 11 when her family first sold her body for drugs.

Sydney was 14 when she met an older man online who promised her financial security and a better life.

And after another stint in the foster care system, Marcus decided that anything, including homelessness, would be better than the foster family he was living with.

Each of these stories, from real girls and boys in the United States, reflects the most common entry points for children being pulled into child trafficking. The facts are frightening:

  • On average, a child enters the U.S. sex trade at 12 to 14 years old. Many are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
  • Most of the time, victims are trafficked by someone they know, such as a friend, family member, or romantic partner.
  • Predators can rent a child for a single sex act for an average of $90. Often, that child is forced to have sex 20 times per day, six days a week.
  • Trafficking usually occurs in hotels, motels, online websites, and at truck stops in the U.S.
  • About 50,000 people, primarily from Mexico and the Philippines, are trafficked into the U.S. annually.
  • According to the Federal Human Trafficking Report, “In 2018, over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the U.S. were sex trafficking cases involving only children.”
  • Traffickers use social media platforms to recruit and advertise victims of human trafficking, according to anti-trafficking advocates.

Films like “Sound of Freedom” and “Taken” highlight the dangers of international trafficking and exploitation. These films deal with trafficking outside the U.S. The United States, however, is a top destination for victims and a major transit hub. Studies estimate that 83% of child trafficking victims in the U.S. are Americans.

Like all crimes, trafficking has a context. In the U.S., child trafficking is aggravated by four main factors: the porous southern border, predatory social media use, pornography, and broken families.

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