Jan 12, 2022
Human trafficking is one of the demographics that is highly misunderstood. Many individuals feels that this is not a current situation nor seen as something that would affect them. Human trafficking has been and continues to be an issue for many years. Recently over the last few years it has escalated tremendously within the teenage and LGBTQ population with the help of social media and technology. We currently identify this type of trafficking as Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Child.
CSEC can be define as the commercial sexual exploitation of children through buying, selling or trading sexual services. In San Antonio and other near by cities, this type of trafficking is seen majority within friend groups and individuals dating “older” partners. It can include pornography, escort services, stripping and other sexual services . We have learned that with social media and technology it has made it easier for groomers to attach to their victims and sell the concept of a better life based on what they present in their profiles or videos. Please understand that this type of exploitation does not require coercion or fraud. We have also learned that the most frequent age of entry into the commercial sex industry in the U.S is between 12-15 years old, over time age has been as young as 9 years old.
There are a variety of forms of victimization that can place an individual especially a teenager
at risk for recruitment such as parental substance and sexual addiction, history of physical and/or emotional abuse, witnessing domestic violence, history of sexual abuse or inappropriate touching at young age, poverty, etc. These forms can lead for an individual to display vulnerability and attention seeking behaviors which are utilized to be easily groomed or highly influenced by their peers.
Many of these individuals do not and will not present as victims. Many victims perceive to be in a relationship whether intimate or peer, as they provide these services. Since they will not share their situation we have to be more mindful of changes in the behaviors. Individuals can present with symptoms of fear, depression, submission and hyper-vigilance.
Victims can display a variety of behaviors:
1. Refusing help: for example not wanting to go to the doctor if in pain,
2. Running away : this can be seen a great deal when phone or electronic is removed from
them which provides them access to their relationships,
3. Drug usage: Start or escalate in experimenting with marijuana and vapes,
4. Aggressive behaviors towards peers and family members: cussing, fighting and short
5. Increase in sexual behaviors: start taking inappropriate sexual pictures and videos.
Here is what we want to be mindful when engaging with our children to help decrease the risk of grooming and recruitment in sexual exploitation:
1. Create a safe environment for them to speak with you, be authentic and reflect what they
2. Be open minded to what they show interest in and attempt to have an open dialogue
3. Be transparent in your role
CSEC is an issue that continues to grow as sex sells especially within our children. Perpetrators continued to provide services as long as the demand is there. Help your children by psycho-educating and being actively involved in their life especially with the pandemic which has caused us to turn to social media and technology more often. You can help be the change just by having a conversation. If you need more assistance surrounding concerns of trafficking or exploitation, please feel free to contact me.