Sex Trafficking Statistics

Unlike other statistics you have come across in your life, the following stats have a pulse; they are America’s daughters, sisters, nieces and sometimes America’s sons as well. Sex trafficking is a complex crime that is under reported and under studied, however, progress is being made in trying to change this. A great first step in gaining an overview of the depth of sex trafficking here in the United States is to understand the statistics that have been discovered through good research.  For every number you see below please remember that it is not simply a number but instead represents a person; a person that has a name, that had goals and dreams for their life and needs someone to fight for them.

What is sex trafficking?


  • Sex trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world.

If you think of this crime and these victims in the same manner a predator does, as a product or commodity, the rapid increase makes sense; a person can be sold for a sex act numerous times while a drug or weapon can only be sold once. The internet has also allowed this crime to scale at an incredible pace. [source]

  • Sex Trafficking has been reported in all 50 states with more than 80% of victims US citizens or living here legally.

This is no longer a crime that lives overseas despite what popular movies portray. This is a domestic problem requiring a national community-wide response. While we do not care where you were born, no person should ever be sold as a commodity, this stat does prove the widely believed misconception that trafficking only happens to those that have crossed an international border. [source]

  • 1 in 6 runaways will likely become a victim of child sex trafficking.

Traffickers seek the most vulnerable and those that have run away from an already bad situation are often a primary target. The runaway and homeless youth population also get brought into survival sex which is another form of child exploitation. This is the act of trading your body for a sexual act for a basic human need (i.e. food, clothing, shelter). [source]


Who are the victims of sex trafficking?


  • The average age of entry into the sex trade is 15 years old for females, it is believed to be younger for males, with 1 in 6 being under the age of 12.

What is every 15-year-old looking for? Love, understanding and acceptance, couple that with low self-esteem and it creates a perfectly vulnerable target. [source]

  • Over 99% of victims are females.

With any sexual assault we know the male population under reports, so this number may be skewed slightly, however, in Guardian Group’s experience the vast majority of those being sold in the commercial sex industry are female. [source]


Who buys sex?


  • 99% of buyers are male

There is no specific profile of a buyer. Buyers (aka Johns, tricks, or dates) come from all backgrounds, races, ages, and work forces. It is not uncommon for them to be married with children. [source]

  • High- frequency buyers, those that buy on a weekly or monthly basis, generally make over $100,000 per year.

This is the only common denominator in the profile of sex buyers. High-frequency buyers make up 75% of the sex buying market. [source]


How do traffickers find their victims?


  • The number one place predators find their victims is on social media sites.

The amount of information we freely offer to the world about ourselves makes it easier for traffickers to find their next victim without ever leaving the couch. Predators troll social sites to try and spot vulnerabilities, they are good at it, our goal is to be better to prevent potential victims. A statement such as “My parents are the worst” or “I’m so over school” allows the predator to connect, relate and offer a solution to the victim. [source]

  • 85% of victims reported developing a close relationship with their trafficker.

This portrays the Romeo Pimp tactic of manipulating and nurturing a relationship with their victim. They manipulate their victim into believing they are truly in a romantic relationship by buying them gifts, taking them out to eat and spoiling them in some form. This tactic creates a bond between victim and trafficker and often the victim believes they are selling themselves because it is how they contribute to the relationship. [source]


How does sex trafficking happen?


  • 75% of victims report being sold online.

Traffickers utilize escort sites to advertise their victims. The ability to advertise on the internet has allowed this crime to scale at a much faster rate. [source]

  • 150,000 new escort ads are posted online every day.

Mixed into all those ads are children who are bought and sold for sex online. Law Enforcement officers lack the time and training necessary to locate a victim in a haystack so to say. The PURSUIT™ Team within Guardian Group acts as a force multiplier. By investing the hours necessary looking at publicly available information (social media sites, escort ads etc…) and providing that information directly to Law Enforcement, officers can act quickly to recover victims and arrest predators. [source]

  • One in four victims who were advertised online reported more than 10 buyers per day.

Let us put this into perspective… 10 buyers per day is better said as 10 rapes per day. As a culture we understand the trauma associated with one unwanted sexual encounter, now multiple this by 10 every single day. The amount of complex trauma victims of sex trafficking is experiencing is unfathomable and often plays a significant role in her ability to leave as well as her recovery after. [source]


What is being done to stop sex trafficking?


  • Less than 20% of law enforcement officers nationwide have had any form of human trafficking specific training.

The Counter Trafficking Training Guardian Group provides free to law enforcement across the nation exists to fill this gap. The more information an officer has the better prepared they will be to recognize trafficking when confronted with it. [source]

  • Only 4% of Law Enforcement agencies across the nation have dedicated human trafficking personnel.

This means that only 4% of agencies have officers that only look at human trafficking in their area. This is a complex crime that requires a lot of time and energy to police well. Guardian Group exists to fill this gap and assist the agencies that need it most. [source]

  • On average a child victim will have to tell 7 adults before recovery.

If a child tells you that something is wrong, and someone is hurting them please listen to them! It takes courage to ask for help, especially for a child that is being exploited by another adult. Listen. Believe. Help.

  • 44% of victims reported no one reached out and offered them help with another 26% reporting rarely ever being offered help.

We as a community must do better. It is time to educate our population and be willing to say something when we see something that looks suspicious. [source]


How Can I Help?


Sex trafficking is a topic that once you learn that it exists you cannot unlearn it and often you cannot ignore it. There are several active roles you can play in the solution; however, we always recommend you learn more first. Start with the information found here and then dive into our introduction to human trafficking course.

Once you are equipped with good information start raising your voice! Educate others on what you have learned. Reach out to your local elected officials and ask what is being done to protect your community from these predators. Start the conversation within your sphere of influence.

Lastly support organizations working in this space. Guardian Group utilizes retired elite military that work constantly to stop perpetrators before they act by providing free support to Law Enforcement. Funding is a vital part to the success of this mission. You can join the fight in that manner here.