Child sex trafficking is a form of child abuse that occurs when a child under 18 is advertised, solicited or exploited through a commercial sex act. A commercial sex act is any sex act where something of value – such as money, drugs or a place to stay – is given to or received by any person for sexual activity.
While any child can be targeted by a trafficker, research, data and survivor lived experience and expertise have revealed traffickers and buyers often target youth who lack strong support networks, have experienced violence in the past, are experiencing homelessness, or are marginalized by society. Traffickers are masters of manipulation and prey upon vulnerabilities using psychological pressure and intimidation to control and sexually exploit the child for their benefit. The issue of child sex trafficking is complex. Understanding the various forms of child sex trafficking and indicators can create opportunities for prevention, identification and response. Most importantly NCMEC embraces and encourages all efforts on this issue to be survivor-informed, child-centered, and trauma-informed.