WASHINGTON (WUSA9)— Here's what you need to know about child sex trafficking in the D.C. region.
- Over 293,000 American children are at risk of becoming child sex trafficking victims.
- It is the fastest-growing organized crime in the United States, and a multi-million dollar industry in Washington, D.C. alone.
- Every year, 300,000 children are forced into prostitution and pornography.
- Child sex trafficking victims could be anyone regardless of social economic status, race, or gender.
- According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the average age of entry into prostitution for boys is between 11 and 13 years old. The average age of entry for girls is between 12 and 14 years old.
- Many victims of child sex trafficking are runaway children. According to the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, one in five runaways were trafficked in 2015.
- There is a long list of complex reasons behind children’s decision to leave home. Some kids come from abusive backgrounds, while others are abandoned by their families. Impulse, angst, and rebellion can also push them out of the home, the FBI reports. Often, these kids become prostitutes and enter the sex trafficking system to support themselves. Victims are often taken far away from the home, family and friends. Using false identification and paperwork, traffickers can transport kids across the country as a part of large-scale prostitution rings and crime networks. Traffickers use violence, drugs, emotional tactics and money to control these children.
- Worse still, children do not normally self-identify as sex trafficking victims. Deception and manipulation leads many victims to believe their relationships are consensual and their lifestyles are normal.
- According to Psychology Today, “This failure to acknowledge being victimized affects the dynamics of victim-law enforcement interaction, safety concerns, and counseling.”
- There were 81 child sex trafficking cases in the DMV reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center area last year alone. And there have been 28 new reports since the beginning of this year.
- The U.S. Department of Education listed some signs parents and community members can look out for if they believe a child is being trafficked. For one, the child may have a change in material possessions or attire. They may also have a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” that is noticeably older. Also, the child may use may make sexual references that are uncharacteristic of their age group.
If you or someone you know is a victim of trafficking, you can get help by contacting the National Human Trafficking hotline. Call 1-888-3737-888. Help #BRINGTHEMHOME.