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Written by Dr. Kecia Ray
on October 7, 2022

Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is also known as child sex trafficking. Any child or teen can be a victim, but we know that homeless and runaway children or teens are more vulnerable than children living in a home. We also recognize vulnerable populations of kids as LGBTQ, African American, Latino, and youth who may be involved with the child welfare system. These most vulnerable populations of students are the most exploited when it comes to sex trafficking. 

More than forty percent of homeless children identify as LGBTQ, and their struggle in identifying their sexuality while communicating with authority figures about these feelings can cause them to feel isolated and alone. This is precisely where predators want children to be to lure them into sex trafficking. 

Twenty-seven percent of all human trafficking victims worldwide are children, and two out of three are girls. The United Nations identifies three elements of child trafficking:

  • The act involves recruiting the victim and gaining access to the person through transporting or harboring them or transferring care.
  • The means involve using threat, force, or coercion through abduction, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or buying a child.
  • The purpose is simply exploitation in sex, forced labor, slavery, or removal of organs. 

Most of the time, the victim knows the person who is trafficking them. Boys and girls are trafficked for different reasons. Girls tend to be more in the sex or forced marriage trade, and boys are more likely to be traded for forced labor or even armed services. Children are also trafficked for organ transfers. Human trafficking isn’t the same as smuggling as trafficking doesn’t require the victim to cross a border. A child could be trafficked in their own home. 

The internet has provided a platform for engaging children in sex trafficking. The FBI investigates sextortion, where the predator uses video game chatrooms to coerce a young person into sending sexually explicit pictures and then uses those images to threaten the victim into submission. It is a tool used to lure children in and a tool used to buy and sell them. However, technology such as Gaggle Safety Management, can be used to prevent this type of crime. Understanding our most vulnerable students through monitoring online activity can help us know better when and how they need help. 

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