Sex Trafficking Minors in the United States

Sex trafficking is an act that’s associated within human trafficking. Human trafficking is also described as modern-day slavery and involves the trade within other humans for the use of forced labor, sex slavery, and even for the theft of organs. Traffickers lead women, men, and even minors into conveying in them and later forcing them into illegal situations.

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This is an issue that occurs throughout all countries and affects many people worldwide. In the United States, there’s many areas such as Texas, Georgia, and California that are noted as top sources for the transit of women, men, and children. Sex trafficking is the top motive for human trafficking, including child commercial sexual exploitation. According to the article Commerical Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Children in the United States, “approximately 27% of victims are children, who are being forced into sexual exploitation” (245). Minors are being targeted by many traffickers because they believe to be the most vulnerable. Traffickers often offer children affection, a friendship, love, and materialistic things. Traffickers generally target minors who are in foster care, homeless, or come from a broken home showing a sign of weakness, making them an easier victim. In order to prevent children from potentially becoming involved or being a target, they need to become educated. In the United States children are being preyed on by traffickers’ time after time due to lack of knowledge and feeling as if they have no other choice. In order to prevent this from continuing in the United States information should be provided to all children at home and on educational bases, raising awareness, and offering other opportunities in order to decrease the chances of them trusting a trafficker for security.

The United States doesn’t only have an on growing problem with having foreign minors being transmitted into the country, but also having a homegrown issue with their own children. Children who are brought from foreign countries are often targeted because they are suffering from poverty and easier to sway with the idea of employment. When gaining assurance, traffickers will convince the children that the United States has greater position and additional job offers. After, they will take children to the United States and import them into prostitution becoming their pimp or trading them. Instead of transmitting their victims from other countries, traffickers are finding more economical to traffic in the United States. According to The United States Department of Justice, “Pimps and traffickers sexually exploit children through street prostitution, and in adult night clubs, illegal brothels, sex parties, motel rooms, hotel rooms, and other locations throughout the United States” (par. 9). Not only is this the place that traffickers market their victims, but where they also prey on other children in the United States rather than outside the country. Children who are in this type of situation or position are occasionally runaways because born into a broken environment and are in search for attention or affection. This is the perfect description of what a pimp is in search of when targeting a child who they can potentially expose.

Many children who are trafficked into commercial sex exploitation are often noted as runaways, come from low-income families, are suffering from abuse, or have a mental disorder. Traffickers and pimps use a specific approach when exploiting children by using physical, emotional, and intellectual abuse in order to prevent them from trying to flee from the life that they have already positioned them in. Victims who are in this certain situation generally choose to continue the life-style as a result of having low self-esteem or being unstable on their own. Not being able to provide for themselves is a worry most victims have since they’ve grown so much liability on their trafficker. Traffickers provide their victims with materialistic items such as clothes, food, drugs, and shelter, although it’s not in the best condition it’s more than what a victim will believe they can gain on their own. Once a victim is becomes used to their daily routine, it’s difficult for them to believe they will have other options in the world. Along with not having mental stability and being vulnerable, children are often being put on illicit drugs and alcohol for their trafficker or pimps to allow them to become the dominate figure in their life. If a person being trafficked has doubt in their mind they might feel as if their only way to succeed in life is in the hands of their trafficker. With this tactic, having minors under the influence and weak will be easier for traffickers to control.

Most of the time traffickers are experts at being psychological manipulators and use this to their advantage on their vulnerable victims. In order to successfully manipulate children, they become aware and educated on what goes on a child’s mind generally in America along with what kind of strategies they can use upon them to trap one as a potential victim. This involves offering children with promises, employment, a home, or even giving them attention. After a trafficker has a child under their command, they use many combinations to break the child’s urge to fight against them. This includes the acts of phycological abuse, physical abuse, drugs, threats, and even rape. Breaking a child’s resistance can sometimes take different times depending on the individual which can either take days, weeks, or months. Once a child becomes desperate, they will do anything in their traffickers favor in order to avoid any sort of abuse. In some cases, children can even become reliant on the illicit drugs that were forced upon them and favor their trafficker in sex services in order to fulfil their new addiction.

Women, men, and children who are runaways, homeless, have home issues, in foster care, have mental disabilities, and addiction aren’t the only ones being targeted and forced into cases such as these, but traffickers are known to use their own family members as well. In many cases that include children being sex trafficked begin with a family members involvement. According to the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative claimed that “The extent of family involvement in the trafficking of children is up to four times higher than in cases of adult trafficking, showing an urgent need for enhanced counter-trafficking efforts specifically targeting children and their families” (qtd. IOM). This shows that traffickers don’t always start off as strangers but can be the same figures you’ve known your whole life. For instance, husbands will sell their wives, but usually it’s the parents that are prostituting their own children, even though there can be endless types of situations that surround families trafficking their own there’s always a reason as to why parent’s do this. Frequently pimps who service their family members do it due to low-income and poverty. For instance, parents use their children to help them bring funds in the household and help with the bills that are tough to pay alone. Any family member using a child for sex trafficking uses characteristics as any other trafficker. Children who are involved in sex trafficking from their parents are also victims of being forced by physical, mental, and emotional abuse in order to perform sexual services.

The United States is being noted as a hotspot’ for sex trafficking minors because this is the country traffickers will most likely transmit their victims from foreign countries and the endless opportunities that seem to be on the rise. In the United States children are being exposed on the internet and websites such as Backpage and Craigslist. In websites such as these, there’s opportunities for pimps and traffickers to display adds that involve the exposure of a child, pornography, the services, and fees along with any other information. Once visible, buyers will get in contact with their traffickers to meet up with a child for their illegal services. Although, pages similar to Backpage and Craigslist are advocated to be removed. There will always seem be another replacement for the websites or sellers will find another way around it which won’t directly have an effect on the trade of sex trafficking itself. Erin Heil the author of Hot Spot Trafficking stated, “In fact, displacement theory suggests that the removal of socialization advertisements and targeted police forces traffickers to simply advertise elsewhere or become more creative in selling the victims, thereby concealing the act of sex trafficking and making it less and less identifiable” (Heil 421). This just presents that sex trafficking isn’t going to disappear no matter what actions are taken upon it. Shutting down the cites where they exploit their victims will only make them fall deeper into the world of sex trafficking making it difficult to detect and prevent. What will help this problem in the United States is to be educated and cautious against any potential abductors. The more educated citizens are involving adults and children, the more it will help reduce the amount of possibilities children could be found in this position.

As much as being educated and illightened on trafficker’s tricks and traps, the police department has a huge aspect as well. Wheater it’s turning their eye to the problem, arresting the actual victims, or even becoming involved with these illegal services. In many cases, it is known that the police often arrest the victims rather than the criminals themselves. Since this information is usually displayed throughout the media, it can become difficult for someone who is being put through this situation to trust their local law enforcement. Victims may feel as if they are caught in their situation by the police, they will be the ones who are blamed for it rather than their own traffickers and become arrested. For instance, police may have the wrong impression when they whiteness a potential victim walking down the street. According to some situations that have happened with past children in this case, the police department have arrested the child, transporting them into their local juvenile hall on the terms of prostitution. Not only do victims run into circumstances such as being arrested but also providing sexual acts towards the police officers themselves. According to San Francisco Chronical, “a sexually exploited minor was performing sexual services to four officers at the center of a Bay Area department” (01). This isn’t the only case that’s been build up on law enforcement, but many more as well. Including children as low as the age of twelve. In the United States, citizens are trained to gain and build trust within their own local police department, but with headlines such as these being presented on the news and being a controversial topic it’s tough for a child to grow that mentality and trust towards the figures who are supposed to be their protectors.

Sex trafficking with the involvement of minors has always been an issue globally, but especially in the United States. In order to prevent this issue, it’s important to raise awareness and become educated. All citizens need to improve their knowledge on this topic, including adults, parents, and children. The right way to provide children with this information is to target them at home and on educational grounds. Information on the real world needs to be provided, this can help them from believing that all strangers just want to be their friend and have only good intentions to offer. Children need to learn what characteristics traffickers have and how they might try to approach them. Exposing a manipulators behavior can help a child’s awareness and have an idea on how to handle the situation rather than falling for a trafficker’s usual method. In America, anyone can become a target and it’s important to know how to handle the situation or avoid being in that position. Developing knowledge on this issue isn’t the only approach that will help prohibit sex trafficking but providing attention and offering any help. For instance, if a parent is present in their child’s life it can help reduce the possibilities of becoming a runaway.

Not only does being present help but listening to them. If a child is in foster care and are missing a mother or father figure, they should be provided with a therapist who will give them that type of reassurance. Making a child feel appreciated and important will prevent them from seeking it somewhere else or in someone else so it’s important to give it to them at home. Not only can this issue be helped at home, but in the community as well.

Sex trafficking is a global problem that will always be present, especially in the United States. It’s one of the biggest criminal businesses that surround us every day. Not only is it one of the biggest criminal businesses, but this illegal field is growing rapidly around the world yearly. Criminals that are involved in this work prey on victims every day in order to increase their fund and because of this it’s important to be aware. Victims of sex trafficking could be anyone from men, women, a child in their earliest years, to people who are involved in the LGBT community. It’s important to raise awareness in our communities and have open conversations with our citizens in order to prevent this from occurring. No matter what legal actions are taken on this issue, traffickers will continue to exploit minors. It’s brutal, but it’s important to be enlightened and explain to humans on the possibilities of becoming a target. Not only raising awareness will help reduce that but advising the community in becoming involved with organizations that will revolve around sex trafficking cases.

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