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Child Sex Trafficking

Child Sex Trafficking

          Child sex trafficking refers to the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a minor for the purpose of a commercial sex act.  Offenders of this crime who are commonly referred to as traffickers, or pimps, target vulnerable children and gain control over them using a variety of manipulative methods.  Victims frequently fall prey to traffickers who lure them in with an offer of food, clothes, attention, friendship, love, and a seemingly safe place to sleep. No child is immune to becoming a victim of child sex trafficking, regardless of the child’s race, age, socioeconomic status, or location, and every child involved in this form of commercial sexual exploitation is a victim.

          Technological advances, in particular the Internet and mobile devices, have facilitated the sex trafficking of children by providing a convenient worldwide marketing channel. Individuals can now use websites and social media to advertise, schedule, and purchase sexual encounters with minors.  The Internet and mobile devices also allow pimps and traffickers to reach a larger clientele base than in the past, which may expose victims to greater risks and dangers.

          Child sex trafficking investigations present unique challenges to law enforcement and require a robust multijurisdictional response, with multiple agencies playing a critical role in ensuring the protection of victims and effective prosecution of offenders. The method by which most traffickers identify, recruit, market, and maintain their victims results in a unique combination of sustained violent criminal behavior with reluctant victims and witnesses. Although interviews of sex trafficking victims frequently identify traffickers and other accomplices, some child victims may resist identifying their traffickers because of fear or other means of manipulation that the pimp has exercised over them. Furthermore, the victim may only know their traffickers’ street name and cannot fully identify their traffickers.

          Child sex trafficking victims are often not recognized as victims and may be arrested and jailed. The dangers faced by these children—from the traffickers, their associates, and from customers—are severe. These children become hardened by the treacherous environment in which they must learn to survive. As such, they do not always outwardly present as sympathetic victims.  They also frequently suffer from short–term and long–term psychological effects such as depression, self-hatred, and feelings of hopelessness.  These child victims also need specialized services that are not widely available given they often have illnesses, drug addictions, physical and sexual trauma, lack of viable family and community ties, and total dependence—physical and psychological—on their abusers.

          For more information, see Federal Law on Child Sex Trafficking

CEOS’s Role

         CEOS attorneys work with the High Technology Investigative Unit (HTIU), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Attorney´s Offices around the country, and other state and local parties to investigate and prosecute cases arising under federal statutes prohibiting the child sex trafficking. CEOS works to not only punish and jail offenders, but to protect the rights and welfare of the children involved.
          In addition, CEOS maintains a coordinated, national-level law enforcement focus, and helps coordinates nationwide and international investigations and initiatives. CEOS attorneys travel all over the country to conduct trainings for investigators, law enforcement personnel and others involved in efforts to eradicate this crime. Moreover, CEOS designs, implements, and supports law enforcement strategies, legislative proposals, and policy initiatives relating to federal laws prohibiting the child sex trafficking.

Updated September 20, 2023