Sex Trafficking and Child Abuse
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and you may be wondering why a counter trafficking organization takes the time to draw attention to child abuse. Previous abuse is one of the key factors that can make someone more vulnerable to being trafficked. Multiple studies estimate that 70-90% of sexually exploited children have a history of child abuse.
These two crimes are so closely related that on May 29, 2015 President Obama signed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. This bill amended the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to require states to include sex trafficking within their definitions of child abuse and neglect.
Child Abuse Statistics Across the US
- 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18 [source]
- Approximately 4 to 7 children die every day because of child abuse and neglect [source]
- Every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies, referrals can include multiple children, meaning more than 6.6. million children are referenced [source]
- 95% of molested children know their abuser [source].
- It is estimated that less than half of child sexual abuse cases are reported to the police [source]
- Male offenders who abuse girls have an average of 52 victims each, while those that abuse boys have an average of 150 victims each [source]
Sex Trafficking and Child Abuse
When survivors of trafficking were asked about their relationships with their parents 39% report their mother was emotionally abusive, while 34% report their father was emotionally abusive. Twenty-five percent report their mother was physically abusive, while 30% report their father was. Five percent of survivors report their mother was sexually abusive and 18% report experiencing sexual abuse from their father. Lastly, 42% of survivors report being placed in the foster care system at some point. The majority of the survivors surveyed entered the sex industry around 15 years old. [source]
Traffickers prey on vulnerable young people. A young person that has already experienced these levels of abuse is a prime target and easier for them to manipulate and exploit.
“A girl who enters child sexual exploitation at fourteen will have submitted to the sexual demands of 4,000 men before she is old enough to drive a car, 8,000 men before she is old enough to vote, and 12,000 men before she is deemed mature enough to buy a single beer in many states.” Vednita Carter and Evelina Giobbe. The level of abuse a child sex trafficking victim experiences is unfathomable.
What Can I Do?
On average a victim of child sex trafficking will have to tell 7 adults before they are helped. Make sure that you are a safe place for the young people in your life to go and know what to do if they disclose any form of abuse to you. Here are some great tools to help you learn more about child abuse and some excellent resources for how to talk to children about abuse.
- Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
- Resources for Parents and Children
- How to Report Suspected Abuse
- Protecting Children during COVID-19