1. Who are the victims?
- Most of the children in the U.S. being commercially sexually exploited are U.S. citizens. Foreign nationals, while still subjected to sex trafficking are brought here primarily for forced labor;
- Poor or affluent, any race or nationality;
- The majority of victims are female however; there are certainly male victims as well. With boys and men, the problem is even more hidden and highly stigmatized, and victims are usually reluctant to come forward and seek help;
- Runaways escaping abuse or neglect;
- “Throw away” children- a term used to describe children who are forced to, asked to or leave their homes of their own choice, but are never reported missing;
- Children can be trafficked in their own homes, often by family members;
- Those involved with or who have fallen prey to cults
2. Who are the Traffickers / Pimps / Perpetrators?
- Anyone who attains anything of value, be it financial or other, through the sexual exploitation of another;
- Large nationwide gangs and criminal organization;
- Local street and motorcycle gangs;
- Individuals with no affiliation with any group;
- Family members;
- All genders and ages: men and women and older teens;
- Pimps can blend in with mainstream society and often appear to have normal lives. Often, girls refer to their pimp as a “boyfriend” and can have strong “trauma bond” relationships with their pimp, similar to Stockholm Syndrome;
- Peers and friends of the child;
- Predators who find children online;
3. How are children recruited?
- Online contact;
- Deception, false promises of some reward, opportunity, or by meeting emotional or physical needs;
- Psychological manipulation;
- Drugs/substance abuse;
- By their peers;
- Through “romantic relationships” in which the perpetrator is pretending to care for the victim in order to gain their trust and loyalty. Perpetrators will spend weeks and months “grooming” a potential victim in order to achieve this goal;
- Threat of violence to victim or victim’s family or friends;
4. Where are children recruited?
- Online relationships that lead to an in-person encounter;
- Malls or other places where youth hang out without parental supervision;
- Bus stops;
- It can be anywhere
5. Where is exploitation happening?
- Private residences
- Strip clubs
- Fake massage parlors
- Private parties
- Escort services
- Truck stops
- Illegal and legal brothels (brothel are illegal in all U.S. states except some counties in Nevada)
- “Cantinas” – a bar where a customer can pay extra for a girl with purchase of beverage
6. How Big of a Problem is this?
To understand how big the problem is, consider this:
Sex trafficking is a supply and demand business, and demand in Kansas City is high. A 2013 study found that 14.5% of adult men (that’s over 106,000 men) in KC are respondents to online advertisements offering commercial sex acts. This is creating demand for sex trafficking. The product being sold is men, women and children.
Source: Roe-Sepowitz et. al, 2013. Invisible Offenders: A study estimating online sex customers
In 2009, the FBI, in partnership with the Independence Police Department, posted decoy advertisements online offering sexual activities that described the females as “little girls” and “young”. Over 500 phone calls were received within the first 24 hours of posting the ads.
Source: Morris, M. (2013, August 29). Kansas City ranks second in academic study of men looking for prostitutes online. The Kansas City Star
Kansas City is conducive to sex trafficking due to our geographic middle location within the U.S.; on the crossroads of two major highway systems, the I-70 and I-35 corridors. Traffickers tend to move their victims frequently to avoid detection along nationwide “prostitution tracks”.