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Sex Trafficking: What Is It?
Sex Trafficking: What Is It?
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Sex Trafficking: What Is It?

Youth

Sex trafficking is a crime that happens when a person uses forces or causes a person to take part in sexual behaviors in exchange for something of value, like money, food, a place to stay, clothing, a job, drugs or even a ride to school. A person can be trafficked by someone they know, even a relative, friend, romantic partner or an adult they trusted.

A trafficker can gain a victim’s trust by promising them love, a relationship or safety; this is called “grooming.” A trafficker might also lie to trick or threaten their victims. A trafficker might tell a lie, like that the victim will get in trouble for sexual behaviors. Or perhaps the trafficker will offer gifts or protection, or threaten the victim or their family members as a way to get the victim to do what they say. Sex trafficking can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation or where they live.

Remember, sex trafficking is illegal, and it is never the victim’s fault. If you or someone you know is being trafficked or you suspect someone is being trafficked, visit HumanTraffickingHotline.org or call 1-888-373-7888.

Parents

The crime of sex trafficking is where a person uses force, fraud or coercion to get another person to take part in commercial sex acts in exchange for money, food, a place to stay, clothing, a job, drugs or even a ride. It is important to know that it is always a crime to cause a person under the age of 18 to engage in commercial sex acts, no matter how it happens.

Traffickers could be anyone. A person can be trafficked by someone they know, even a relative, friend, romantic partner or an adult they trusted. A trafficker often gains a victim’s trust by promising them love, a relationship or safety; this is called “grooming.” A trafficker might also lie, trick or threaten their victims. A trafficker might tell a lie, like that the victim will get in trouble for sexual behaviors. Traffickers may also give the victim gifts, offer protection or threaten the victim or their family members as a way to get them to cooperate.

Sex trafficking can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation or where they live. While sex trafficking can happen to anyone, there are young people who are especially vulnerable, including those who have a history of abuse and neglect, have witnessed violence or lack a strong support or family system.

Remember, sex trafficking is illegal, and it is never the victim’s fault. If a child discloses any information to you that would support that they may be trafficked or being groomed by a trafficker, focus on the child’s emotional safety first and honor that disclosure by asking simple and nonjudgmental questions. Let the child know you are a safe person and that the child can talk to you and be heard. Never promise to keep secrets, especially those that may involve abuse, neglect, assault or exploitation. Reassure the child that what they share will only be known by those who may need to be involved in making sure they are safe. There may be things that need to be shared with authorities, but be clear with the child that you will be there along the way to make sure the child is safe. Visit HumanTraffickingHotline.org or call 1-888-373-7888 for additional assistance. You can also contact your local Child Advocacy Center by visiting Nationalcac.org. SetMeFreeProject.net also has resources for parents.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

It is important to ensure your children and those in your care feel comfortable coming to you if they or someone they know has been touched inappropriately or encouraged to do something they are not comfortable with. Being a nonjudgmental listener and reassuring your child that they can come to you about anything without fear of punishment lays the foundation for children to come to you if someone crosses a boundary with them or they are concerned for someone they know. The easiest way to start these conversations is to talk about issues as they come up in everyday life, like while watching TV together.

Bring up the topic of communication while watching a movie or show

When a character in a movie or show keeps an important secret from parents or trusted adults, ask your child if they would be comfortable coming to you in a similar situation. Don’t judge your child’s response, just listen. Judging or being critical of your child’s response will only reinforce the idea that they can’t come to you without being judged. Once you have listened, you can then reassure your child that no matter what the situation is they can come to you without worry of being judged or punished, especially if they or someone they know might be hurt or in trouble.

Educators

The crime of sex trafficking is where a person uses force, fraud or coercion to get another person to take part in commercial sex acts in exchange for money, food, a place to stay, clothing, a job, drugs or even a ride. It is important to know that it is always a crime to cause a person under the age of 18 to engage in commercial sex acts, no matter how it happens.

A person can be trafficked by someone they know, even a relative, friend, romantic partner or an adult they trusted. A trafficker gains their victim’s trust by promising them love, a relationship or safety; this is called “grooming.” A trafficker might also lie, trick or threaten their victims. A trafficker might tell a lie, like that the victim will get in trouble for sexual behaviors. Traffickers may also give the victim gifts, offer protection or threaten the victim or their family members as a  way to get them to cooperate.

Sex trafficking can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation or where they live. While sex trafficking can happen to anyone, there are young people who are especially vulnerable, including those who have a history of abuse and neglect, have witnessed violence or lack a strong support or family system.

Sex trafficking is illegal, and it is never the victim’s fault. If a person you know is being trafficked or you suspect someone is being trafficked, visit HumanTraffickingHotline.org or call 1-888-373-7888. Make sure you are also familiar with the mandatory reporting laws in your state and that you know your responsibility for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

After watching the video with your class, process it using the following discussion questions:

How was sex trafficking described in the video?

What are some examples of grooming that were described in the video?

Why is it important to understand that sex trafficking can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation?

If someone is being trafficked or you suspect someone is being trafficked, who can you talk to?

If you notice that your child is having a bad day or feeling down...

If you notice that your child is having a bad day or feeling down, remind them that you are there for them if and when they feel ready to talk about what is going on. This opens the door to communication and shows that you are available and willing to be a good listener.