What is commercial sexual exploitation of children?

Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in its primary forms is prostitution, pornography, sex tourism, sex trafficking and sexual performance, in which a commercial transaction is involved. A child cannot consent to these abuses and in all cases abusers are exploiting the vulnerabilities of children for their own gratification. Commercial sexual exploitation is a violation of children’s human rights, international law and the laws of many countries, including the United States of America.


what do you mean by "child"?

The US and the UN define a child by anyone under the age of eighteen. Virtually everyone in the United States will strongly agree that a prepubescent child found to be commercially sexually exploited is a victim, but there is still debate over whether adolescents truly are victims. Some people believe that a teenager may choose to enter prostitution, and that no real crime is taking place when they are sold for sex. This is wrong and people need to learn the truth.


Does it really happen in the united states?

Across the United States and around the world, children are being commercially sexually exploited. Thousands of children, if not tens of thousands, are trafficked into the U.S. each year for sex and labor.


why don't i hear about it more often?

Unfortunately, very few victims are identified, and fewer still receive the help and services they need. Often when a child is discovered with a trafficker (pimp) or exploiter (John), the girl or boy is the one blamed. These children, below the age at which can legally consent to sex, are then arrested by police officers and tried for solicitation by courts that view them as criminals, not victims. Meanwhile, the exploiter often goes unpunished.


if there are so many victims, why i havent i seen it before? 

The prostitution market, including for young people, is increasingly off the street and on the internet. Today, dates are set up via email and the act often occurs behind the closed doors of local hotel rooms. Youth are targeted and manipulated by pimps who transport victims from city to city. Exploiters use hotel rooms as venues to abuse children, knowing that systems are not in place to identify and protect the victims.


how can you be sure children don't choose this willingly?

It is difficult to for some people to believe that these children are tricked and coerced into prostitution, and many ask why can’t they just leave? When they imagine being forced into prostitution, they think of someone being grabbed off the street in an unmarked van, held at gunpoint, and chained to a radiator in a leaky basement, forced to serve lecherous and corpulent men with perverted appetites. If not for the popularity of reality TV, it would be difficult to dispel this myth. Two brothers from the Bronx, New York City, thought they could get a reality TV show on cable television highlighting their lives as pimps. They filmed themselves recruiting, grooming, and controlling young girls. They explained what they were doing to the camera, literally deconstructing their methods. They were only so bold because of the normalization of the pimp image in America, and after submitting their video to MTV they got a ten year sentence in federal prison instead of a television show contract.


why children?

Traffickers are actively seeking out fresh girls and boys to feed the sex industry’s demand for more and more young and attractive ‘objects’ to sell. Children are easier to coerce and control than adults, and many factors in a child’s youth can make her or him vulnerable to traffickers. Foster care youth often don’t have a caring adult helping to protect them from predators, whether at the shopping mall or on the internet. Runaway and homeless youth are vulnerable to to an adult offering an exchange of sex for a place to sleep tonight, a meal or cash. Sexually abused children are especially vulnerable. As one pimp said, “These girls have been raped so many times. Well, it’s my job to convince them they might as well get paid for it.”


what can i do to help?

You need to help awaken the conscience of America. People have to know that the prostitution of children is occurring, that it is a problem, and that the victims are unable to help themselves. These children are threatened and physically assaulted by their traffickers, their exploiters, and are shunned by the community at large. If all you do is tell a few friends what you’ve read on this one page, you’ve already made a difference. If you’d like to do more, navigate through our website to educate yourself and read about other ways to help.