Sex Trafficking in the United States

Many young women who are trapped in the sex trafficking epidemic usually are products of poverty, child neglect or are runaways. They find themselves being lured into sex trafficking by older men who pretend to have their best interest at heart or they are abducted by organizations that profit in the sex trafficking market. Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, or DMST, is, “the commercial sexual abuse of children through buying, selling, or trading their sexual services. Forms can include prostitution, pornography, stripping, escort services, and other sexual services” (Kotrla, 2010, p.

181). Any sexual act performed by minors where the sex is paid for by something of value such as money or drugs is considered Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) (Kotria 2010). The purpose of this research is to conduct a quantitative study to conclude whether the relationship between these factors is more likely to lead young women into sex trafficking.

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According to Donley-Hayes (2014), “child sex trafficking is a thriving industry, one very thoroughly ensconced in the United States.

“Approximately 100,000 children have trafficked in the United States annually” (p.28).

The federal government and state and local law enforcement agencies play a crucial role in reducing the opportunities to traffic humans for commercial sexual exploitation. These law force agencies are encouraged in their continuing efforts to reduce sex trafficking and encourage continued efforts at the federal level to investigate and prosecute sex traffickers and illegally operating feeder businesses, such as the pornography industry, strip clubs and massage parlors that create a demand for trafficking victims. Thesis Statement What is the relationship between drug abuse, child neglect, and runaways with girls lured into sex trafficking? Hypothesis If a teenage girl in the United States has two or more risk factors, than she is more likely to be lured into sex trafficking. The independent variables are drug abuse, child neglect, and youth runaways. The dependent variable is sex trafficking. Significance In the United States, millions migrate daily to experience a life of freedom.

Sex -trafficking is happening in the land of the free and destroying that freedom. It is important for parents, officials, and the public to become aware of who is targeted in the sex trafficking industry. Researching the relationship between the three most prominent risk factors among teenage girls will allow individuals to begin to understand how to possibly prevent sex trafficking for adolescents, especially those who experience a life of drug abuse, child neglect, or who become known as a runaway youth. However, in studying this topic; people must be aware that the number one bait for these sex traffickers with teenagers is drugs. A lot of times young people are snatched away in the midst of their peers and/or environment that embrace alcohol and drugs. It is especially common today with so many drug epidemics taking place all over the United States with our teenagers. So, if a parent pays attention to their teenager like who they are with, where they hang out, and check their social media page.

More than likely, they will be able to keep their teen out of the hands of these predators. But the truth of the matter is, there are a lot of parents that work to provide a good living for themselves and children, and they do not have the time to check out what their children are doing. They just expect them to be accountable and responsible. Sometimes expectations come with a heavy price. This leads into no guidance and no direction, and you are giving a “child” the freedom to be an adult. What does this have to do with sex trafficking? Sex Traffickers only prey after the ones who are “neglected” and sometimes that type of “neglect” means no parental consent. It is the same as a child predator watching a child play by herself in the park, and he sees that she is not being attended to; he is only waiting on his opportunity to lure her with candy, a conversation or snatch and run. Sex Traffickers worked the same way. Some are more skillful and clever, but the exact same method with the exception of their candy may come in the form of drugs. In order for sex trafficking of young girls to cease, researchers must be able to know what causes young girls to enter into sex trafficking.

Answering the question proposed in the thesis will be a start to making others more aware of how girls are lured in and what to look for to stop this phenomenon from continuing. If the researchers can determine the three risk factors are significant issues in sex trafficking, then more awareness can be sought out for the factors. Review of Relevant Literature The concern involved with drug use and sex trafficking is whether or not drugs cause girls to enter into sex trafficking or whether girls begin drugs after they are involved in the sex trade. One way drugs are used after the girls are brought into the sex trade is using them as a coping mechanism. Drugs become an escape (Cobbina & Oselin 2011). They also use them to take away humiliation, pain, and uselessness. The longer they are involved with sex trafficking, the worse their drug problems become (Cobbina & Oselin 2011). Although drugs are often used as an escape after they are in, many of the minors who were involved in sex trafficking compared to those who entered when they were adults, were more likely to have started on drugs at an earlier age. In fact, many of the girls who entered as adolescents began drugs about one year before they became sexually exploited (Clark et al., 2012). Many young girls will also enter the sex trade because of what is called survival sex. They often will need money for food or drugs and will engage in sex in order to receive what they need (Cobbina & Oselin 2011).

Survival sex is a coping mechanism for them who have dealt with homelessness. Sometimes the world can be so bad that anything is better than nothing. So, if a young lady doesn’t want to sleep on a cold wet bench or eat out of a filthy garbage can. She doesn’t mind doing sexual favors for a warm bed and hot meal. Soon, she is being exploited and all she wanted to do was survived. It often becomes an ugly cycle. Especially to those young ladies who use their method of survival as a way to put more dope in their veins. Many women will become addicted or were addicted to drugs when they started in the sex trade. This fact perpetuates the need to continue in the business. Staying in allows them to pay for their drug habit. In fact, many pimps will entice the young girls to become addicted to drugs so they will become hooked into sex trafficking (Cusick & Hickman 2005). Using drugs heightens the risk of being lured into sex trafficking. In Reid and Piquero’s (2014) research article, they were able to discover drug use as a probably precursor of sexual exploitation. Many girls are unaware of what they are truly getting themselves into. Being addicted to drugs causes these young girls to be exposed to the sex traffickers and unaware of the danger they are in (Reid & Piquero 2014).

Another area, which constitutes risk related to sex trafficking, is runaway youth. “The sociocultural and economic factors that influence runaways can have devastating effects on the health and psychosocial development of girls, placing them at increased risk of sex trafficking and related negative health outcomes” (Konstanopoulos et al., 2013, p.1201). “American teens that have run away from home or have been ‘thrown-away’ from home are particularly vulnerable to DMST” (Horner, 2015, p. 89). Kotrla made an impact when she mentioned online attacks. Some people may assume they are safe behind a computer screen, when in fact; the worst kind of damage could take place. According to Kortla (2010), “tactics used to lure victims of DMST into a heinous trap often start with a popular social networking site” (p.185). They believe they are going to a better life when in fact that is far from the truth. In a startling analysis, “20 percent of girls who ran away reported being prostituted, while only seven percent who did not run away reported being prostituted” (Reid, 2011, p. 150). The reports indicated girls who ran away were more likely to experience prostitution, most likely leading to a life-long commitment to someone other than themselves. When teenagers run away from home, traffickers need only three days in most cases to contact the runaway girls and try to lure them into the sex trafficking trade (Horner, 2015, p. 89).

Child neglect and abuse is another risk factor, which may lead to girls being taken into the sex trade. Many girls who are neglected and then become runaways are eventually lured into prostitution. The neglect and child sexual abuse often is the precursor to youth becoming runaways. The complications of runaway youth previously mentioned are then played out for these youth who have been neglected and abused. In addition, it was found runaway youth who have pasts which involve abuse and neglect, are more likely to engage in trading sex for needs that arise for them. In fact, the “biggest predictor” of entry into commercial sexual exploitation is engaging in sexual behavior before the age of 15 (Wilson 2010). Wilson (2010) found physical abuse and neglect were both strong risk factors for adolescents becoming involved in prostitution. In fact, many children who experienced neglect are more prone to being lured into sex trafficking because of their desire for attachment. They are more likely to be swayed by a pimp on the street or a sex trafficker because they become attached or do not want to lose the attachment because of confrontation. Youth who are neglected may learn that sexual relationships will secure them affection or money and this can cause them to continue on indefinitely. (Wilson 2010). The selling and trading of human life for the purpose of sex, labor or any other purpose is an attack on human dignity. The reality is sex trafficking turns people, often very young girls, into mere commodities sexual objects to be bought, sold, used and discarded.

No human being should be treated this way. At its core, sex trafficking is an issue of the sanctity of human life. As Christians, we believe in the sanctity of all human life from fertilization to natural death. Sex trafficking degrades and often destroys human lives that are made in the image of God. Thankfully, there are many people working to stop the horrors of sex trafficking. In 2 Samuel 13, the Bible speaks of King David’s son, Amnon who sent for his sister when he was ill and he lured her in his room. He had his guards to block the door as he raped her and stole her innocence when he did it; she wasn’t the same ever again. Amnon was a predator. And he took the innocence of a naïve child who only wanted to please her father and brother through her obedience. How many teenagers got hooked on drugs because they were trying to please their friends or significant other? Tamar is representation of every young woman who has been lured by a sex trafficker. She was a daughter of a King. Her linage came from a Royal Priesthood, and yet she was caught off guard by a lustful demonic spirit that took over her brother.

This world today is filled with lustful spirits. Many are sent to kill, steal and destroy this generation. And this is why it is so important in regards to what a parent have or don’t have economically we must PAY ATTENTION to our children! There is only so much that law makers, agencies and schools can do, but the real solution or missing piece to a lot of our issues among young people starts at home with the parent. Sex Traffickers can only lure your child if your child is left unattended and not protected.

The average age of trafficked girl youth is uncertain, but most estimates fall between ages eleven and fourteen, with some age of entry estimates as low as five years of age. Entry age is lowering, as evidenced by the content of websites that traffickers use to post advertisements. Any child can become a victim of DMST, but vulnerability is maximized for isolated children in dysfunctional families, children “in the system” or foster care, and those who lack stable homes and social supports. The need to be physically present in a particular location in order to engage in the sex trade puts law enforcement at a significant disadvantage. Essentially, traditional law enforcement is left to battle a technology based criminal enterprise using tools best suited for real world criminal activity. The challenge facing law enforcement becomes not only one of scale, but also one of timing. It is beyond dispute that intelligence provides law enforcement the ability to become less reactive and more proactive. Proactive law enforcement creates one of the most valuable tools to battle criminality, that being the loss of predictability. When coupled with a loss of perceived anonymity there is little doubt that such a tool will drastically change the human sex trafficking landscape. As a result, God teaches love for our neighbor (Matthew 19:19) as well as love for those in need (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus was the one who taught the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sum up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Further, Proverbs 31:8-9 teaches us to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” These principles certainly all apply to those hurt through the illegal practice of human sex trafficking.

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Sex Trafficking in the United States. (2022, Feb 04). Retrieved from

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