What is Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children?
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is in it’s primary forms prostitution and pornography, and this may include child sex tourism and child sex trafficking. These child victims are coerced, deceived, and forced into commercial sex acts. Commercial sexual exploitation is a violation of children’s human rights, international law, and the laws of many countries, including the United States of America.
Does it really happen in America?
Unfortunately yes, an estimated 300,000 American children are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation every year. Throughout the country prostituted children can be found in brothels, “working” the streets, and advertising on-line. They act like they enjoy it, they’ll tell you they’re eighteen, they’ll say they choose to enter into it, but that is far from the truth.
What do you mean by “child”?
The US and the UN define a child by anyone under the age of eighteen. Virtually everyone in America will strongly agree that a prepubescent child found to be commercially sexually exploited is a victim, but there is still debate over whether adolescents truly are victims. Some people believe that a teenager may choose to enter prostitution, and that no real crime is taking place when they are sold for sex.
How can you be sure children don’t choose this willingly?
It is difficult for some people to believe that these children are tricked and coerced into prostitution, and many ask why can’t they just leave? When they imagine being forced into prostitution, they think of someone being grabbed off the street in an unmarked van, held at gun point, and chained to a radiator in a leaky basement, forced to serve lecherous and corpulent men with perverted appetites. If not for the popularity of reality TV, it would be difficult to dispel this myth. Two brothers from the Bronx, New York City, thought they could get a reality TV show on cable television highlighting their lives as pimps. They filmed themselves recruiting, grooming, and controlling young girls. They explained what they were doing to the camera, literally deconstructing their methods. They were only so bold because of the normalization of the pimp image in America, and they got a ten year sentence in federal prison instead of a television show contract.
Can’t this just be handled by the police?
The law enforcement system of America is overburdened; budget cutbacks have reduced patrols and the ability of precincts to investigate. Building a case against a trafficker takes time and money. In most cases, the children will claim to be 18 and have a fake ID with them. They will remain tight-lipped and be uncooperative with law enforcement, even hostile. With pressures from the public and government officials to do “something” about crime, they have little choice but to arrest the child prostitutes, have them spend a short time in jail, and release them into the custody of their traffickers. They can use the number of these arrests and those conviction rates as validation that they are doing something about crime, even if they know in their hearts they could do more. While there will always be a few bad apples; police officers, prosecutors, and judges that have a negative view of these victims from the start, the overwhelming majority of law enforcement want to help these children but don’t have the resources to do so.
What can I do to help?
You need to help awaken the conscience of America. People have to know that child prostitution is occurring, that it is a problem, and that the victims are unable to help themselves. These children are threatened and physically assaulted by their traffickers as well as shunned by the community. If all you do is tell a few friends what you’ve read on this one page, you’ve already made a difference. If you’d like to do more, navigate through our website to educate yourself and read about other ways to help.