Child Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation in the United States

child sex trafficking

To some in the United States, “child trafficking and sexual exploitation” may evoke the image of back alleyways or dirty brothels in some faraway country. In reality, the pervasiveness of the issue is much greater here in the United States than is oftentimes imagined.

While child pornography is a global issue, the United States remains the largest producer and consumer of child abuse content in the world. Data from Operation RoundUp — the only source of data known to the U.S. Department of Justice about the volume of child pornography traded over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks — indicates that there were 9.8 million unique IP addresses engaging in P2P file sharing of child pornography domestically, while there were 11.8 million unique IP addresses engaging in P2P file sharing of child pornography internationally. This means that the United States accounts for nearly 50% of all IP addresses engaging in P2P file sharing of child pornography images. To help combat this growing issue, organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are using technology to analyze photos and information quickly to help law enforcement safely recover children.

Child trafficking is also a prevalent issue in the United States. According to Polaris Project’s report on Human Trafficking Trends in the United States, of the 9,298 potential human trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center from 2007 to 2012, 2,668 involved at least one child — and 74% of these cases involved sex trafficking. The exact number of children being trafficked is difficult to identify due to the illicit nature of this activity, but it is estimated that there are 100,000 to 300,000 children at risk of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States and one million children exploited by the global commercial sex trade each year. (U.S. Department of State, The Facts About Child Sex Tourism: 2005)

Here at Thorn, we continue to partner with companies across the tech industry to leverage technology to combat predatory behavior, rescue victims, and protect vulnerable children in the United States. While we’re working behind the scenes to disrupt and deflate predatory behavior, there are ways you can join us in the fight to combat child sexual exploitation. Stay informed and involved, and help spread the word about the NHTRC hotline (1-888-373-7888) and the BeFree text shortcode (233733), connecting individuals with help and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To learn more about child sexual exploitation, watch this video, read more about Thorn’s fight, check out our work, and get educated on the child sex trafficking facts and child abuse imagery statistics.

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