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:
- If a child goes missing from care, social service agencies are required to report it to both law enforcement AND the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. If you suspect the child may be a victim of trafficking it is important to note this information in your report along with any evidence of possible endangerments. If you work for a social service agency, NCMEC has designed a designated portal on this site for you to make your report or you can call our 24/7 hotline 1-800-THE-LOST.
- If you become aware of any type of child sex trafficking, report it! Tips can be made through our Cybertipline or by calling 1-800-THE-LOST.
- Reviewing CyberTipline reports relating to child sex trafficking;
- Assisting on cases of missing children involved in, or at risk of, trafficking;
- Providing technical assistance and training to help with the identification, location and provision of recovery planning and services to victims of child sex trafficking and;
- Finding community-based resources and providing peer to peer support to address the needs of families of child sex trafficking victims.
To respond to the increased prevalence of child sex trafficking, which frequently affects children in the foster care system, federal laws have created new requirements for child serving agencies. Learn more here: Child Sex Trafficking in America: A Guide for Child Welfare Professionals
Child sex trafficking resources at NCMEC
Child Sex Trafficking Team
Established in 2011, NCMEC's Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT) provides specialized technical assistance, case management, analysis and recovery services on cases involving child sex trafficking, including:
Through NCMEC's free distance learning program, NCMEC University Online, law enforcement and child-serving professionals can complete the online course, Introduction to Child Sex Trafficking: Awareness & Response. For those interested, the application can be accessed at www.missingkids.org/ourwork/training.
If you are sworn law enforcement or a prosecutor and are interested in receiving additional training on child sex trafficking, please visit www.missingkids.org/ourwork/training where you will find information on Child Sex Trafficking: Awareness & Response (CSTAR) trainings.
Child Sex Trafficking in America: A Guide for Child Welfare Professionals Child Sex Trafficking in America: A Guide for Parents and Guardians Child Sex Trafficking Risk Factors & Identification Resource Missing Children, State Care, and Child Sex Trafficking: Engaging the Judiciary in Building a Collaborative Response