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Child Sex Trafficking

Child sex trafficking is a priority for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, especially because these children are often currently missing and actively being exploited.  Of the nearly 26,300 runaways reported to NCMEC in 2019, 1 in 6 were likely victims of child sex trafficking.

What is Child Sex Trafficking?

Under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act any child under 18 years of age, who is exploited through commercial sex where something of value – such as money, drugs or a place to stay – is given for sexual activity, is a victim of child sex trafficking. Regardless of whether or not the child has identified a trafficker, that child is still a victim. A child is not able to consent to being bought or sold.

Intersections of Child Sex Trafficking and Child Welfare

Perpetrators of sex trafficking often target children in care, using their vulnerabilities to manipulate them. 16% of the children who ran from the care of social services and were reported missing to NCMEC in 2019, were likely victims of child sex trafficking. Child serving professionals should familiarize themselves with indicators of child sex trafficking and be prepared to respond:

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