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

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:

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: