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 statistics:
On any given day in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery, 4.8 million of them in “forced sexual exploitation.” Over one million of those in “forced sexual exploitation” are children. Source: “Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage.” International Labor Organization, Walk Free Foundation, International Organization for Migration, 2017 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. Two categories of children who are commercially sexually exploited are described here. The term child includes both pre-pubescent and pubescent children.
1. 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. But it also included cases of online enticement, child sex trafficking; and child sexual molestation. Source: www.missingkids.org/KeyFacts
2. 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. Here are some local statistics:
Minnesota Dept. of Human Services received 651 reports of child sexual exploitation and child sex trafficking from May 2017 through December 2018 from across the state. This includes reports from 60 counties and 5 tribes. About 30% of the cases concerned children under 12 years old. About 50% concerned cases where parents or caregivers were alleged to be offenders. Source: Minnesota Dept. of Human Services presentation to the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force, April 19, 2019.
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: Human Trafficking, Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, and Commercial Sexual Exploitation, Annual Report February 2018
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. Of these, 85 were people under 18 years old. Source: Estimating the Magnitude of Sex Trafficking Risk and Victimization of Juveniles and Young Adults, 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: 2016 Annual Report, 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: Human Trafficking by the Numbers: The Initial Benchmark of Prevalence and Economic Impact for Texas Final Report, December 2016
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: www.covenanthousestudy.org/landing/trafficking/
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: “Mayor’s Task Force on Anti-Human Trafficking Human Trafficking Report in San Francisco,” August 2015
45% of child commercial sexual exploitation victims in New York City were exploited in hotels. Source: Ric Curtis, et al., “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City”, The Center for Court Innovation, New York City, 2008