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Help Revive A Teen

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In 2020, 109,216 victims of human trafficking were identified worldwide. This is almost ten thousand less than in the previous year, but the number of human trafficking victims has significantly increased in the past decade. 

A common misconception about human trafficking is that it does not happen in the United States. This is false, as the United States is ranked as one of the worst countries globally for human trafficking. It is estimated that 199,000 incidents occur within the United States every year.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline has one of the most extensive data sets on human trafficking in the United States collected through phone calls, texts, online chats, emails, and online tips received by the Hotline. While this information is some of the most comprehensive available, the data does not define the totality of human trafficking. The number of cases presented is only the cases that are reported.

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What is Child Sex Trafficking?

 

Child sex trafficking is the exploitation of minors (defined as children under 18, though teens over 18 can be victims as well) for prostitution. According to the U.S. Dept. of State, “if a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age,” it is considered sex trafficking. The average age of a victim is between 12-14 years old. An estimated 300,000 adolescents every year fall victim to sex trafficking. However, experts assume the numbers are much higher due to the secretive nature of trafficking.

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Who is Vulnerable?

 

Many teens who fall prey to sex traffickers are adolescents who ran away from home due to family issues or because they lack a safe/permanent home life. While on the streets, they’re often lured into prostitution—usually within two days. These adolescents are often promised money, food, gifts a place to stay, and/or drugs. Pimps also try recruiting adolescents through coercion, which can include psychological manipulation or the use of gifts. Sometimes, the teens don’t realize they are getting into a sex trafficking ring. Many times, these runaways are girls, but sex trafficking victims can be boys, too.

Other adolescents vulnerable to sex traffickers are those in the foster care system. Exploiters target these children because they know they have no stable home life or emotional connection to family. Teens living in foster or group homes are vulnerable especially if they’ve been abused in the past. Offering acceptance, love, connection, and financial stability, the traffickers try to seduce these adolescents. Even if adolescents want to leave, they often can’t. Their exploiters may threaten to beat them, starve them, hurt their family, or any other sort of punishment. Oftentimes, the traumatized adolescent may have a complicated relationship with their abuser. They may even think the abuser protects rather than exploits them.

California has a huge sex trafficking problem, especially when it comes to adolescents. That’s not largely highlight or broadcast on the news. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), the largest majority of the human trafficking cases reported in the U.S. each year originate in California.

In fact, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are three of the ten worst child sex trafficking cities in the U.S. (California Against Slavery). Human trafficking is one of San Diego’s worst criminal issues —second only to drug trafficking.

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