Words matter because they affect how we conceptualize problems, prioritize issues, and forge responses. Read on to educate yourself and make sure your friends, family, coworkers, and community know how to talk about trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.



Child Sexual Abuse Material refers to photographs and recordings that are made during real criminal acts of sexual abuse of children and/or focus on the genitalia of the child. Advocates use this term as an alternative to "child pornography." It is ECPAT-USA’s position that the term "child pornography" does not adequately convey the horror and violence of sexual crimes against children.



Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children



Any person under the age of 18


Commercial Sex Act

When something of value is exchanged for sexual services. This may be money, but it can also be food, clothing, or shelter.


Child Sex Trafficking

When a person compels a child to perform a sex act for money.



The person who buys sex from a trafficking victim, commonly referred to as a "John". A person can be both a trafficker and an exploiter.



The person who compels another individual to perform a commercial sex act, often by means of force, fraud, and/or coercion.


Survival Sex

When a person exchanges sex for food, clothing, shelter, or petty amounts of cash. This is common among homeless and runaway youth.