Due to its clandestine nature and the lack of uniform and disaggregated data, making accurate calculations on the scale of commercial sexual exploitation of children, child trafficking, and adult trafficking can be difficult and misleading, but there are some general facts and statistics:


40+ million people are living in slavery worldwide


1 in 4 is a child

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The industry is worth billions



"At any given time in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage. It means there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world. 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children...Forced labour generates annual profits of US$ 150 billion."  —International Labor Organization


United States

Commercial sexual exploitation is a term that covers all people younger than 18 years old whose sexual abuse is subject to a commercial transaction. Three categories of children who are commercially sexually exploited are described here. The term child includes both pre-pubescent and pubescent children.

  • Commercial sexual exploitation of children includes the population of pre-pubescent children who are raped and whose abuse is then captured in a photograph or video and sold.  This is called “child sexual abuse imagery or material.” Children as young as infants are subject to this abuse.
  • In 2016 the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children received 8.2 million reports, most of which related to apparent child sexual abuse images. Reports also included cases of online enticement, child sex trafficking; and child sexual molestation. Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

  • Children who have reached puberty, starting as young as 12 or 13 years old, are incorporated into the adult sex industry. There is no universal number about how many of these children there are in the United States.


Local Statistics

A report by the Louisiana Dept. of Children and Family Services in February 2018 found 352 child sex trafficking victims, based on data reported by a limited number of agencies. There were 237 adult victims and 52 whose age was not reported. Source: Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services 


1 in 6 of the 18,500 runaways reporting missing in 2016 were likely sex trafficking victims. That is up from 1 in 7 in 2013. Of these likely sex trafficking victims 86% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran. Source: National Center on Missing and Exploited Children


340 individuals ages 25 and under were confirmed or believed to be victims of sex trafficking in Milwaukee between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2016. Source: City of Milwaukee 


In 2016, 2,480 children and youth were identified self-reported or determined to be sexually exploited in New York City. Source: New York City Administration for Children’s Services and Department of Youth and Community Development


In a study published in 2016, it was estimated that there were approximately 79,000 minor and youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas. Source: The University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work, Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault


A series of recent studies done by Covenant House, Fordham University, and Loyola University of New Orleans where 911 homeless youth were interviewed in 13 cities showed 19.4% were victims of human trafficking. Source: Covenant House


During the last six months of 2014, the San Francisco Mayor’s Task Force on Anti-Human Trafficking identified 104 victims of child sex trafficking in San Francisco. Source: San Francisco Mayor’s Task Force on Anti-Human Trafficking  


45% of child commercial sexual exploitation victims in New York City were exploited in hotels. Source: Center for Court Innovation