It’s Happening Right Here
When most people are asked the looming question of, “What is trafficking,” the typical response is that it involves sex trade in foreign countries, with foreign women. Most would be surprised to know that it is happening right here in the Unites States with American born individuals, many of whom are children. What most are also not aware of is that the term trafficking does not need to involve movement outside of this country, or even this state. (*this is an extremely important fact to be duly noted during intake). Many are unaware that the exploitation of individuals is occurring right in their backyards, on their streets, and in their communities; and are largely unaware that their children are going to school where pimps may be lurking, looking for their next victim.
21st Century Slavery
Under U.S. federal law, trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining [of] a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”
Sex trafficking is nothing less than slavery. When an offender takes a woman or child against their will and forces them to engage in prostitution, that offender has stolen both their freedom and their dignity.
Human Trafficking is now considered the 2nd largest and fastest growing illegal trafficking activity in the world. (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2008)
Researchers estimate that between 100,000 and 300,000 American children are trafficked within the U.S. each year. There is credible evidence, based on arrest statistics and field research, that sex trafficking is getting progressively worse and that children under age 18 compose the largest segment of trafficking victims in the U.S. (Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 2007)
Florida is commonly known amongst law enforcement personnel to have one of the highest incidences of human trafficking in the country. The Clearwater/Tampa Bay area has been identified specifically as a region struggling with these issues. (Shared Hope International)
As many as 2.8 million children live on the streets, a third of whom are lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. (Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 2007)
The lives of child prostitutes are almost too appalling to confront. Studies indicate that child prostitutes serve between two and thirty clients per week, leading to a shocking estimated base of anywhere between 100 to 1500 clients per year, per child. (Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 2007)
The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12-14. It is not only the girls on the streets that are affected — for boys; the average age of entry into prostitution is 11-13. (Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 2007)
Young people are often recruited into prostitution through forced abduction, pressure from parents, or through deceptive agreements between parents and traffickers. (Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 2007)
Pimp-controlled commercial sexual exploitation of children is linked to escort and massage services, private dancing, drinking and photographic clubs, major sporting events, conventions, and tourist destinations.