The U.S. Youth Sex Trade

Brad M. Griffin | May 3, 2010

Its not just about Thailand, in case youve been led to believe we can distance sex trafficking from Main Street U.S.A. Despite the general rise in awareness of the global slave trade the past few years, trafficking of teenagers within the U.S. is also getting worse, according to a report in Christianity Today of grant-funded research conducted through Shared Hope International. The article (free online), titled Sexual Slavery on Main Street, gives this summary of what they discovered:

The survey found that many sex-trafficking victims were being misidentified and wrongly prosecuted as criminals. In some cases, the survey found, children as young as 9 years old were being sold for sex by parents or boyfriends in exchange for illicit drugs. Organized crime networks are now using sex trafficking because the risk of prosecution is so low. The survey determined that a high percentage of teens rescued from trafficking return to the system due to the strong bonds they form with their pimps.

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 worse and that U.S. children under age 18 compose the largest segment of trafficking victims in the U.S.

Last fall the NY Times ran an insightful series on the rising number of teen runaways and the connection between runaways and sex trafficking (I blogged about it here). We need to continue to raise awareness within our own communities that this is a realityboth across the globe and down the street.

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.


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