Vulnerabilities for Child Sex Trafficking: Who Is Most At Risk?
According to a 2016 study centered on the nature and extent of gang involvement in sex trafficking in San Diego County in California, it was found that the average age for most people who are lured into sex trafficking is 16. In an age where children do not even have to leave their rooms to be exploited, successfully addressing child sex trafficking requires a more dynamic approach.
Generally, it has been found that children from lower-income families, mostly people of color and economically disadvantaged populations, form the majority of victims of child sex trafficking in the United States. While anyone can be exploited, certain factors define the most at-risk population in America. As always, shining the light on this subject is at the center of combating the issue of DMST in America and other parts of the world.
Child sex trafficking is a global issue, affecting all races, all ages, and genders, including LGBT. The movie Zola did throw some light on how the crime is most commonly perpetuated in our communities. But focusing on prevention and elimination, one effective strategy for making the world a safer place for our children is keeping the discussion open, educating students, parents, caretakers, teachers, the government, and everyone else.
According to The Guardian, native Americans account for more than 25% of human trafficking victims in New Mexico, even though they only represent 11% of the state’s population. Another research also found that indigenous American women and girls are the least recognized and protected group, especially in states that struggle to address this issue. This is mostly attributed to the lack of infrastructure in dealing with the problem of sex trafficking in the state.
To address this challenge, more awareness needs to be raised. Although work is ongoing towards addressing the problem, more effort is required to elevate the level of awareness and get more stakeholders involved.
Children in the Foster Care System
The child welfare system was designed to cater to the needs of children without parental support, but the same system suffers terribly from loopholes that traffickers exploit heavily to target children. In our work at the Mission Haven, we have come across several survivors’ cases linked to the foster care system.
Studies show that 50-90% of child sex trafficking victims, were at one point or another, involved in the child welfare system, specifically the foster care system. Children who are put in homes where basic parental support is lacking are very much at risk. Traffickers typically lure them in by building trust over time. Particularly, those with a history of sex abuse are most at risk of falling into the hands of traffickers. Fixing these lapses, reports indicate, will eventually help in correcting the problem at this level.
African Americans and Latinos
The long history, slavery, forced labor, poverty culture, and racial imbalance in most communities play a major role in perpetuating human trafficking, involuntary domestic servitude, forced labor, and sex trafficking of both adults and minors. According to an FBI report on crimes in the U.S., African American and Latino youth account for approximately 40% and 20% of all commercial sex act arrests of minors.
People of color are disproportionately overrepresented in sex trafficking cases. Most victims in these groups cite economic disadvantage as a factor exploited by traffickers. Statistics also reveal that Blacks and Hispanics account for most minor sex trafficking victims in the U.S.
Homeless and Runaway Youth
Other prime targets of traffickers are homeless and runaway youth. One-fifth of homeless youth examined in the United States and Canada have been victims of human trafficking, according to a recent report. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) also reported that 1 out of 7 missing children identified as sex trafficking victims. Runaways and homeless children need affection, as well as financial and parental support. Traffickers carefully leverage these needs to win more victims over.
In their daily interaction with the world around them, LGBTQ youth are disproportionately faced with rejection, discrimination, violence, and economic instability. Homeless LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to engage in survival sex — for access to food, money, shelter, or drugs. These vulnerabilities increase the opportunity for traffickers to recruit them. They may even come as adult advisors, offering the support and finance the youth could not get from their families.
Building a Solid Support System for Child Sex Trafficking Survivors
The Mission Haven is focused on providing a comprehensive and transformational Haven of Healing to victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. We believe that every single DMST survivor still has a chance at life at its best, and we need every support we can get to continually provide the pillar of support that they need.
Our goal at The Mission Haven is to provide them with all the support they need to start over. With your generous donations and support, we can continue to provide a truly safe haven of hope and healing equipped with essential resources to lift victims and survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking. To give, volunteer, or become a partner, feel free to contact us today.