What is Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking?

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, and incredibly lucrative – a $150 billion per year industry in the buying and selling of human beings for profit and pleasure. The profits are huge and the risks of being prosecuted are slim.

Federal law defines domestic minor sex trafficking as the commercial sexual exploitation of any American citizen or permanent resident under 18 years of age. A commercial sex act, which includes pornography, stripping, oral sex, and prostitution, is an act performed for anything of value. What is received in this exchange can include something as simple as a hamburger for a child who is hungry, a place to stay, or higher status in a gang. Many times, the victims are vulnerable children fighting to survive.

While it is true that there are children who are at higher risk for becoming a victim, such as runaways, victims of abuse and those who have been in the foster care system, all children are vulnerable. Traffickers seek out areas where kids congregate – parks, malls, coffee shops, transit stations – as well as through social media. They are even sending recruiters into schools. Children are approached and groomed, sometimes while living right at home, and most often advertised for sale on the internet. Only 3% of these cases involve abductions – most are being sold by people they have met and know, threatened with harm to themselves or their families if reported.

A lack of awareness, coupled with the anonymity afforded by the use of the internet and cell phones, makes the role of the pimp and the recruiter extremely easy and the task of law enforcement much more difficult. Fueled by greed and demand, the scope of this horrific crime seems overwhelming, but everyone can make a difference. Teach the children in your life about the tactics of traffickers and know the red flags to watch for. Advocate for the voiceless, talk to those in your sphere of influence – educate yourself and others. There is truly no place for ignorance and complacency – nothing less than the innocent lives of America’s children are at stake.


Quick Facts:

  • Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking has been documented in every state – it is happening in rural areas and suburbia as well as urban centers.
  • It is not uncommon for a child as young as 12-14 years old to be targeted and recruited into prostitution.
  • Children exploited through prostitution report they typically are given a quota by their trafficker/pimp of 10 to 15 buyers per night.
  • Many victims are children who have experienced physical and sexual abuse at home.