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Dear professional,

Child. Sex. Exploitation. These three words should never be used in the same sentence, much less be a reality for many of the world’s most vulnerable.

Victims of trafficking and exploitation are not a number. They are individuals—young girls and boys, as well as adults of all social and economic backgrounds. In the most unfortunate of circumstances, the victim may be your own child. It’s possible you may have come across a child at risk of exploitation at some point in your career and not know it.

This curriculum includes information to help participants understand the reality of human trafficking and exploitation, and most importantly, what you can do as a professional working with children to prevent child trafficking and exploitation.

I recognize you likely have multiple and competing demands—that the issue of human trafficking and exploitation is one of many that you need to consider. Thank you for taking the time to review this information. I also understand the information and stories shared here may be difficult to read, and that it can be especially challenging to read this information while considering how a child you know could be at risk. I’d like to ask you to press through those uncomfortable moments—because I know how important this conversation will be. As a professional that works with children, your voice and understanding in this process is irreplaceable. Thank you for for journeying with us, and for your work on behalf of youth.


Kind regards,
Kimberly Casey
U.S. Programs Director, Love146

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Love146 is an international human rights organization working to end child trafficking and exploitation through survivor care, prevention education, professional training, and empowering movement. Slavery is still one of the darkest stories on our planet. But for us, the hope of abolition is a reality. Love146 believes in helping grow the movement of abolition while providing effective, thoughtful solutions. We believe in the power of love and its ability to effect sustainable change. Love is the foundation of our motivation.

1. An Introduction to Human Trafficking and Exploitation


Understanding the issue of human trafficking and exploitation is the first step to help prevent it.

This session will:

  • Define key terms: human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, force/fraud/coercion
  • Provide brief overview of trafficking in a global context
  • Focus on domestic sex trafficking of youth
  • Explore recruitment tactics
  • Address common misconceptions about trafficking




What is human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation?

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines human trafficking as any labor or commercial sex act induced through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the profit of a third party (i.e., a trafficker). In the case of sex trafficking, the trafficker receives something of value (e.g., money, goods, drugs) for the sexual exploitation of the victims. When a minor is being exploited by a third party for sexual purposes, force, fraud, or coercion does not need to be present for the situation to be considered human trafficking because according to federal law children under 18 years old cannot consent to engage in commercial sex.

The terms human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) are often used interchangeably. For the purposes of this curriculum, CSE is defined as the abuse of power differentials or the exploitation of a person’s vulnerabilities in order to induce a sexual act(s) in exchange for something of value (e.g., money, a place to stay, goods). The CSE of children is any sexual act(s) involving a child (under 18) in exchange for something of value. This includes child pornography, child sex tourism, and child marriage (when something of value is exchanged). Therefore, the difference between human trafficking and CSE is that human trafficking always involves a third party that is benefiting from the situation.


What is force/fraud/coercion?

For labor or commercial sexual exploitation to be trafficking, it must involve some element of force, fraud, or coercion. The following are examples of force, fraud, and coercion in the context of human trafficking:


  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault, rape
  • Physical confinement or isolation


  • Fraudulent employment offers
  • False promises about living or work conditions
  • Withholding wages
  • Posing as a friend or romantic partner


  • Threats to life, safety, family members or others
  • Threats of deportation or arrest
  • Debt bondage
  • Withholding legal documents
  • Psychological manipulation
  • Blackmail

Whether it is through the use of physical force, deception, fear, or any other manipulation tactic, human trafficking involves the loss of freedom and the use of people as commodities. For this reason human trafficking is also known as modern day slavery.




Traffickers often groom their victims by taking advantage of vulnerabilities. Sometimes a trafficker can spend weeks and months at a time in a process of building a false relationship while isolating their victims. It is not uncommon for victims to not realize that they are being exploited. In some cases it might even look as if the victims have walked into the trafficking situations willingly. In a sense that might be true only to the extent that either they did not know what they were walking into or they are being manipulated and controlled. Taking a closer look at vulnerabilities and how they put youth at risk will expand on the understanding of the psychological dynamics of this type of abuse and what prevention and early intervention looks like in this context. Session 2 will address vulnerabilities in more detail.

The following are examples of common recruitment tactics and ways in which youth become involved in the commercial sex industry:

  • Grooming by providing expensive items
  • Grooming by fulfilling emotional needs (spending time, listening, giving compliments)
  • Peer pressure
  • Using pictures, personal information or anything else that might cause fear of embarrassment or getting in trouble with family, school, law, etc.
  • Online recruitment through social media or chat rooms
  • Engaging in survival sex to fulfill basic needs


Grooming is to prepare or train (someone) for a particular purpose or activity. Traffickers take advantage of emotions such as wanting to feel love, affection and attention. They also take advantage of feelings of wanting nice things or a glamorous lifestyle, or even the feeling of wanting to be grown up and independent. The words of Donny Pauling, a former pornography producer, makes this clear:

“Porn can give me this lifestyle?” she’d ask herself. “No dear girl, this lifestyle isn’t for you,” I’d say. “You can’t handle this business. What if your dad finds out you’re working for me?” The more a college-aged girl was presented with questions like this, the more she’d argue that I was wrong and this life was something she could handle. When her life began falling apart, I could pat myself on the back for having warned her against getting involved in the first place.




In the past several years attention to the issue of trafficking has been increasing. Most people can say that they have heard about trafficking in persons at some point. Yet misconceptions and myths around this issue still persist, even among professionals. The following are some of the common misconceptions we’ve come across in our workshops.

Human trafficking only happens in poor countries. Trafficking happens everywhere, including the United States. Not only are people brought to the U.S., nationals are trafficked domestically every year. No one knows for sure how many people are trafficked, but various reports estimate that thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked domestically in the U.S.
Human smuggling is an example of trafficking. Trafficking can involve smuggling in the process, but movement is not necessary for someone to be trafficked. A person can be trafficked in their own city, neighborhood or house.
Only girls and women are victims. Though it’s less frequently talked about due to gendered stereotypes and assumptions, boys and men are also trafficked. In 2012, the International Labor Organization estimated that 55% of trafficking victims for both sex and labor are women and girls.
Human trafficking is primarily about sexual exploitation. While awareness about sex trafficking has recently gained a lot of momentum, labor trafficking is a prevalent reality. In fact, the 2012 report from the International Labor Organization estimates that of the 20.9 million enslaved worldwide, 4.5 million are in sexual exploitation while 14.2 million in forced labor.
Most people in the commercial sex industry choose to do it, earn a lot of money, and find pleasure and enjoyment in their work. While there are some individuals that freely choose to work in the commercial sex industry, there is a disproportionate number of people in the commercial sex industry who are victims of trafficking or have been in the past. Victims of trafficking only get a small portion of their earnings from their traffickers, if any. Emotional and physical abuse are very common in the commercial sex industry, along with rape, robbery, and sexual assault. Some are driven to the commercial sex industry due to financial pressure and lack of opportunities.
Most people in the commercial sex industry are adults. The average age of entry into commercial sex is between 11-14.
Child trafficking victims are usually kidnapped. In the U.S., youth are most commonly recruited into trafficking through seemingly caring and loving relationships with traffickers who emotionally disguise themselves. Typically, traffickers offer to provide for material or emotional needs. It is common for traffickers to also use different forms of psychological coercion and physical force to keep control over their victims.
The typical pimp looks like what used to be portrayed in the media. Traffickers and pimps can look like and be anyone: businessman, grandmothers, celebrities, parents, firefighters, and religious leaders have been found guilty of trafficking. Even youth have been found guilty of trafficking their peers at school.
Why don’t they just run? The relationship between a trafficking victim and their trafficker is very similar to other abusive relationships. Having a good understanding of trauma bonding, Stockholm syndrome, and the wheel of power and control aids in understanding the complexity of the issue. In some cases, victims don’t leave their trafficker because the situation at home seems worse than being with the trafficker. For others, financial pressure keeps the victim from leaving the situation.

For more information on human trafficking you can visit or Our youth curriculum also contains trafficking scenarios based on real-life events.

2. Vulnerabilities and Risk

Understanding vulnerabilities and how they increase risk of exploitation is the next step in addressing trafficking of youth. It also helps professionals and experts in various fields to recognize the connections and sometimes overlap between human trafficking and some of the other challenges that our communities face.

This session will:

Ken “Pimpin Ken” Ivy, a notorious trafficker, writes in his book Pimpology: The 48 Laws of the Game: “It doesn’t matter to a pimp what hoes’ weaknesses are, so long as they have them. Then he uses those weaknesses to his advantage….” If exploitation is to take advantage of vulnerabilities, it’s important to ask the question: what makes a child/youth vulnerable?




Although all youth are at risk of recruitment, there is a subpopulation of youth that are particularly vulnerable. This includes, but is not limited to, children in the foster care system, runaway and homeless youth, youth that identify as LGBTQ, and those with a history of complex traumatic stress—resulting from continuous exposure to family dysfunction, trauma, sexual abuse, and other forms of abuse (i.e. bullying).




While providing services for survivors of trafficking and exploitation requires specialized training and experience, professionals that work with youth do not need to have a completely different set of skills to play a significant role in addressing trafficking and exploitation. Adults can have a very positive impact by way of prevention as they help youth access information, support services, and skill building. Adults can recognize attitudes, language, and beliefs that might contribute to some of the vulnerabilities affecting youth and challenge those themselves as they work with youth. Below, we will breakdown some of the vulnerabilities and causal factors and find connections that can help you better do prevention and intervention.







Traffickers are experts in recognizing the struggles and vulnerabilities of youth. For instance, a youth experiencing low self-esteem might be approached by someone online or offline with compliments, gifts, and other strategies that make them feel like they are valued, loved, and have someone to count on. Over time, the trafficker often creates the illusion of a relationship (friendship or romantic) and starts isolating the victim through emotional and psychological manipulation that the youth doesn’t recognize as abusive. Soon, compliments, gifts, and kindness turn into demands, threats, and manipulation. Perhaps even physical abuse. All of this occurs while the victim is compelled to engage in commercial sex, with words like: “if you really loved me, you would…” or “after all I have done for you, the least you can do is…” The trafficker might prevent the youth from reaching out for help by saying that no one else cares about them or even by making the victim feel shame and blame for the the sexual exploitation: “imagine if people found out who you really are,” “what you have done,” or “no one would believe you.”

Application Activity

Choose a few vulnerabilities from the individual/psychological category and think about how they connect to each other. How does one create another or increases the likelihood of another one being developed? How might a trafficker use those vulnerabilities in the process of recruiting or maintaining a youth in the exploitative situation?




Many adults would be surprised if they paid attention to the role that society plays in perpetuating factors that contribute to the many vulnerabilities that youth face. Human trafficking does not happen in a vacuum—as a society, we contribute to creating and increasing risk, maintaining harmful societal phenomena such as the pimp culture, and even the demand for prostitution and pornography. Looking at aspects of our modern life can help us analyze how our culture creates vulnerabilities.

The role of media

It’s no new development that mainstream media uses sexual and violent images and stereotypes to sell products. They can play a powerful role in shaping a young person’s understanding of sex and violence, and also shape their ideas around sex trafficking and exploitation in particular.

Application Activity

The famous catchy tune P.I.M.P by rapper 50 Cent is a powerful example. As you read the lyrics, look for how the song tells the story of a trafficker grooming and selling a victim. Consider how media normalizes violence, sexual violence, and violence against women. Are there other examples that you can think of that have a similar effect as the P.I.M.P. song?

To read the lyrics of P.I.M.P. see Appendix B

Gender stereotypes

In an interview with The Guardian in 2013, singer Chris Brown discussed the age at which he lost his virginity. He was eight, he says, and the girl was 14 or 15.

“Yeah, really. Uh-huh.” He grins and chuckles. “It’s different in the country.” Brown grew up with a great gang of boy cousins, and they watched so much porn that he was raring to go. “By that point, we were already kind of like hot to trot, you know what I’m saying? Like, girls, we weren’t afraid to talk to them; I wasn’t afraid. So, at eight, being able to do it, it kind of preps you for the long run, so you can be a beast at it. You can be the best at it.”

What if the tables were turned, and Chris Brown was Christine Brown talking to an interviewer about how she had sex with a 14-year-old boy when she was eight? No matter how much she laughed off the experience, the writer would not refer to the experience as “losing her virginity.”

Girls/women and boys/men face different expectations and stereotypes: a female who has many sexual experiences is considered a slut, while a male is considered a stud. Because of this double standard, men who have been abused often feel ashamed to come forward and seek help. Many don’t recognize what happened to them as abuse until much later in life, when they’re dealing with the after-effects of sexual abuse such as depression, anger management, and difficulty forming emotional bonds. Challenging gender stereotypes with the children/youth, especially around expectations surrounding sex, can help them acknowledge abuse and seek help.

The power of language and victim blaming

Language can make someone feel powerless and vulnerable, or twist a story so that the victim is blamed for their own exploitation. Perceptions can become realities and normalize behavior. Language has always had the power to create harm, but similarly, it has the power to create positive change. Talking to children/youth about the power their words have over how their peers feel about themselves and their situation, and also taking a critical look at the words we use to talk about others, is an important step in addressing exploitation.

Below are examples of words suggested by students that Love146 has worked with, and a brief explanation that you can share with children/youth about the negative impact these words can have. These words hold a lot of power in shaping ideas around sexual exploitation:

Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime, or any wrongful act, is held entirely or partially responsible for the offenses committed against them. A common example of victim blaming is the phrase “well, look at what he/she was wearing—they were practically asking for it.” Commenting on what the victim was wearing in this way suggests that the assault was his/her fault.

For examples of victim blaming from Steubenville, Ohio, and Sayreville, New Jersey, see Appendix C.




There are environmental factors that can create strong vulnerabilities for youth. A youth may have a loving and caring family, but still be at very high risk for exploitation due to factors such as immigration status, feeling pressure to provide financially for their family, or exposure to violence or gangs in their family or neighborhood. Traffickers may make false promises to the youth about the amount of money they would make if they engaged in commercial sex, or use the youth’s desperate family situation to blackmail them. Recent arrests and charges have shown that gangs are increasingly involved in human trafficking after recognizing how a person can be sold over and over again, unlike drugs that can only be sold once. Youth with family members that are addicted to drugs are at high risk, as their addiction causes them to sometimes allow other people to abuse their children for sex. Youth that develop a drug addiction are highly at risk of being exploited as well.




The vulnerabilities and effects of trafficking overlap with other forms of abuse. For that reason, it is important to review some of the main aspects of Stockholm syndrome, trauma bonding, and power and control dynamics. This provides better context for understanding the psychological effects that victims and survivors of trafficking face, and for understanding what the appropriate response and care may be.

Stockholm syndrome is a strategy for survival that develops unconsciously when a victim of kidnapping or abuse develops an emotional bond with their captor or their abuser.

Elements that are usually present when Stockholm syndrome develops:

Major symptoms:

(Information adapted from “Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser” by Joseph M. Carver, and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 2.59.27 PM

Wheel of Power and Control adapted by Polaris Project from the Duluth Model Power and Control Wheel.

As we wrap up this section on vulnerabilities, risk, and the dynamics of victimization, it is important to remember the definition of consent. A proper understanding of consent can help reduce victim-blaming attitudes, encourage bystanders to speak up, and help people identify abuse and exploitation when they see it. Consent is to give permission for something to happen, or agreement to do something. Being silent or not directly saying the word “no” does not mean consent: consent means communicating “yes” on your own terms.

It’s important to understand that the person was not given the space to freely say “no.” It’s not that they didn’t say “no,” but that they couldn’t say “no.”

(Definition adapted from ConsentEd, 2014 –

Application Activity

What vulnerabilities can you identify in the populations that you work with? What services or resources are in place for addressing those vulnerabilities in your school, organization, and community? How can you better coordinate responding to disclosures?

It is important to remember that all youth regardless of income, family composition, and school have some level of risk. All people, both adults and youth, have moments of vulnerability. Come up with two lists that represent the following:

  1. The most likely vulnerabilities of a youth from an under-resourced family.
    Examples: Pressure to provide financially, homelessness
  2. The most likely vulnerabilities of a youth coming from a middle-class family.
    Examples: Low self-esteem, pressure to fit in and be accepted, loneliness

3. Signs, Red Flags and Responding to Disclosures

After gaining an understanding of human trafficking and exploitation and analyzing the effects of vulnerabilities, it’s important to draw connections between vulnerabilities and red flags as well as have appropriate response systems in place.

This session will:




By addressing vulnerabilities and decreasing risk you are already having a significant role in addressing the trafficking of youth in your community. However, some of the signs to look for when identifying sexual exploitation or human trafficking include:

  • The sudden presence of an older boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Suddenly has a lot of new stuff or seemingly has a lot of money to spent on them (e.g., new clothes, new hair styles, manicures/pedicures)
  • Being secretive about who they are talking to or meeting
  • Being secretive about their online activity
  • Becoming more and more isolated from their regular friends (the groomer often does this to have as much control as possible over the child)
  • Responding to a job offer online for modeling/acting or sharing information about a potential job that requires moving
  • Inconsistencies in their family history
  • Overly submissive
  • High levels of anxiety (e.g. jumpy, constantly nervous)
  • Engaging in risky sexual behavior
  • History of family engagement in commercial sex
  • Sexually transmitted illnesses
  • Knowledge and language about “the life” (commercial sex)
  • Signs of physical abuse (e.g. cuts and bruises)
  • A tattoo that the youth is unable/hesitant to explain

It’s important to remember that just one sign is usually not enough to be sure that a youth is being exploited, but a combination of signs can suggest a situation of trafficking. For more information on how to identify human trafficking and exploitation, visit:




As mentioned before, an individual, school, or organization does not need to be an expert in trafficking and exploitation in order to provide effective prevention and appropriate early intervention. Thinking about the strengths and resources already available, in every individual, both the youth and the adult providing support, can help in the process of identifying best ways to address disclosures and use what is already in place.

Although all disclosures should be taken seriously, two things should be the primary criteria for the initial response to a disclosure:

  1. The age of the person making the disclosure. If the person making the disclosure is a minor, it is required to report to the state agency handling child abuse and neglect cases and/or law enforcement. Each state has slightly different reporting protocol. But generally professionals working in the field of mental health, health, teachers, and other adults working with youth and children are mandated reporters. In some states every adult suspecting abuse or neglect of a child is actually considered a mandated reporter.
  2. The immediacy and level of danger. Is the youth sharing about something that happened 6 years ago or something that is ongoing? Are they in immediate danger and afraid to go home? Or is the person abusing or exploiting still in their lives? Even though an abuse that took place in the past has to be reported when the individual is still a minor, the situation might give you more time to follow up and think about possible resources available. it might not be necessary to drop everything you are doing right at the moment. However, if the child discloses information that is about a recent incident and involves immediate danger for the child and/or their family, beyond an immediate call to Child Protective Services, you might want to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline and locate all the appropriate referral information that seems relevant at the moment such as sexual abuse and domestic violence centers, homeless shelters, emergency services, law enforcement, and trafficking-specific services. Use your good judgment in assessing whether the situation is so severe or urgent that a call to 911 might be in place.

Remember to be sensitive to the victim/survivor’s feelings, needs, and preferences and don’t do things without the youth’s knowledge. As you probably know already from your own training and education, it is important to acknowledge your own level of comfort and the boundaries of your role. For example, don’t take on the role of an investigator or take someone’s safety in your hands if you are not a Child Protective Services worker, an FBI agent, or law enforcement employee.

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts when talking to a child/youth you suspect has been/is being sexually exploited.


  • Be non-judgmental when listening to the child/youth, and make sure to avoid shaming the child/youth in the way you ask questions.
  • “I” questions can be very helpful. Rather than beginning your conversation by saying “You (the child) did something/said something that made me worry…” consider starting your inquiry with the word “I.” For example: “I am concerned because…”
  • Pay attention to your body language. Face the child/youth and make eye contact. Show interest, empathy and understanding through words, nods, and facial expressions. Speak calmly.
  • Pay attention to a child’s/youth’s body language during and after their response to your question. Their body language should be congruent with what they are verbalizing.
  • Label the behavior, not them. For example: “you’re involved in prostitution” rather than “you’re a prostitute.”
  • Ask if anyone has been touching them in ways that don’t feel okay or that make them feel uncomfortable.
  • Know that sexual abuse can produce a physical response that feels good to the victim, so asking your child if someone is hurting them may not get the information that you are looking for.
  • Emphasize the child’s/youth’s own choices and wishes in the recovery process.


  • Dispute facts or comment on the child’s/youth’s motivations. This is likely to stop the flow of information.
  • Expect the child/youth to recognize their situation as exploitative or to present themselves as a victim in need of immediate intervention or rescuing.
  • React verbally or physically in a way that communicates disgust or disdain. Refrain from displaying a “shocked” face or talking about how “awful” the child’s/youth’s experience was—this may shut the child/youth down.
  • Expect the child/youth to disclose all of the details of their abuse. Sometimes heavy information will need to be gathered in stages.





Recent studies on the effects of viewing pornography suggest that youth who watch pornography may develop unrealistic ideas and expectations about sex. Research also suggests that youth who view pornograpy, especially on instant streaming websites, have higher levels of delinquent behavior, higher levels of depression, and decreased emotional bonding with caregivers (Owens, et al.) If the topic of pornography comes up in a conversation, encourage the child/youth to think critically about the effects of what they’re watching and keep an open dialogue.


Sending and receiving nude or suggestive photos is a part of everyday life for many teens, but it can have negative consequences when a photo meant for one person is being passed around the whole school. The consequences of sexting can have lasting implications, including bullying, humiliation, and expulsion from school. It can also provide unfortunate opportunities for someone to blackmail them and exploit them.

Even if a youth is taking and sending explicit material of themselves, they can be charged with the production and distribution of child pornography by law enforcement, and be listed on the sex offenders registry. Although it is unlikely for a teenager to face charges in court for sexting, it is important for youth to be aware of the realities of the possible legal consequences in addition to social/emotional ones.

Healthy online/offline relationships

An exploitative relationship can develop over time. People gain trust by offering things that youth often crave such as a listening ear, compliments, gifts, and promises of love. Making decisions can be a difficult emotional process for youth who are bombarded with competing images of what a relationship is “supposed” to look like. And when the interactions are happening online, it can be especially hard for youth to recognize risky situations.

Even though we might imagine an “online predator” to be a creepy old man with a mustache sitting at his computer pretending to be a young teen online, studies and interviews with victims of exploitation have shown that more often than not, the abused teens were aware of the offender’s age when they chatted online, and some thought of them as a romantic partner. The abused teens thought that they were in love, and in many cases had sex with the abuser on multiple occasions. These encounters often took the legal form of statutory rape (Crimes Against Children Research Center, 2000).

How do you know if a child/youth is having problems online?

It is difficult for children/youth to talk about sexual concerns or sexual exploitation, whether it’s committed by a stranger, someone they know, or a peer. Many tell no one at the time and, even as adults, many victims feel they can’t tell anyone.

Signs that a child or young person may be the target of sexual exploitation online include:

  • Spending increasing amounts of time on the Internet.
  • Becoming increasingly secretive—particularly around their use of technology.
  • Hiding what they have on screen when someone walks by.
  • Increasingly using their phone/computer in private places.
  • Not being able to talk openly about their activity online.
  • Agitated behavior when answering calls or messages.
  • Missing periods of school with no explanation of where they are going.
  • Vague talk of a new friend but offering no further information.
  • Unexplained changes in behavior, temperament, or personality (e.g. chaotic, aggressive, sexual, mood swings).
  • Phone shows record of visiting lesser known chatrooms and social media sites, as opposed to popular platforms such as Twitter or Instagram.
  • Talking to people (via text message, or messaging apps such as Kik, Viber, Line, or Snapchat) that they met online.




Sometimes children and youth that are victims of human trafficking or CSEC do not disclose that they are victims of these crimes because they are not able to identify that they are victims. Yet, if you have enough reason to believe that they are being exploited or notice vulnerabilities that indicate high risk, address the vulnerabilities in the best way that you can by having a non-judgmental attitude, referring, providing information, and assisting in safety planning.




When a youth discloses or you identify high risk and vulnerability:




A child/youth may come to you for help with a topic that you feel unequipped to talk about. For example, you may suspect that they are planning to run away from home but know that it may be difficult to stop them.

In these situations, you can talk to the child/youth about support services such as the National Runaway Safeline number or youth homeless shelter in your area so that they will know where to go for the help they’re looking for.

It is important to encourage youth to reach out for help and let them know that in spite of their circumstances, they are valuable and that there are people that want to help them find their way out of unsafe situations.

The following are national resources. We encourage you to do an assessment of the resources available in your area.

Important resources

Human Trafficking
(this includes youth who have been in “the life”)
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center:
1-888-3737-888 (Text “Be Free” 233733)
Runaway National Runaway Safeline:
Rape and Sexual Assault National Sexual Assault Hotline
Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN):
Domestic Violence National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Suicide Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Alcohol and Drugs Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
Pregnancy American Pregnancy Helpline:
Health Planned Parenthood Federation of America 
Counseling and Referral:
LGBTQ GLBT National Youth Talk Line:
Poison National Capital Poison Center:
General Support and Information Crisis Text Line:
Text “LISTEN” to 741-741





Additional Resources for Online Safety

Internet filtering software options

  • Net Nanny:
    Net Nanny shows you what your children do online and lets you identify information that is never to leave the computer, such as your home address or credit card numbers. You can manage the account from any computer with a web connection and a browser.
  • AVG Family Safety:
    AVG Family Safety software monitors chat rooms and social networking sites, filters websites based on age appropriate content, sends you to text/email reports on web usage, and allows you to set up unique accounts for every child.
  • WebWatcher:
    WebWatcher collects data about user activity on computers or mobile devices and creates detailed time tracking and activity reports available online.

Online safety guide for teens

  • Love146’s Online Safety Guide
    This page, written to be a resource for teens, walks through conversational red flags, safety guidelines to follow online, and what to do if you feel uncomfortable.

Tools for addressing pornography

  • The Guideline
    This 20 page guide from Fight the New Drug is for parents/caregivers who want to address pornography with teenagers. The guide is based on the feedback that Fight the New Drug has received from thousands of teenagers and research on the effects of pornography.




You may be wondering what legal actions you can take as a parent/caregiver if you suspect sex trafficking in your neighborhood, or find out that your child has been sexually exploited or involved in commercial sex.

In case of immediate danger, call 911

If you witness a situation of exploitation, or are told by a child that they are facing threats of immediate danger, contact 911.

If you suspect human trafficking, call The National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888-373-3888

The hotline is available to answer all calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Calls received by the hotline are always anonymous unless the caller chooses to provide the NHTRC with his or her name and contact information and authorizes its use. This information is not given to law enforcement, other individuals, or other agencies without prior consent.

What happens after I report a tip?

After receiving a tip, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) team jointly conducts a thorough internal review process to determine appropriate next steps. Crisis calls and urgent tips receive immediate follow-up. 

Before reporting, the NHTRC will consider the needs and stated preferences of the caller as a primary consideration. Additional considerations include the specificity of the information provided, the presence of indicators of severe forms of trafficking in persons, the involvement of minors, and the anti-trafficking services and law enforcement available in the caller’s area. The preferences, when known, of the potential victims involved will also be taken as a primary consideration.

Follow-up may involve any of the following actions:

  • An additional call to the caller to confirm the accuracy of information (with the caller’s consent)
  • Provision of materials and/or referrals to organizations in the caller’s area serving trafficking victims
  • A report to a local anti-trafficking organization, service provider, or law enforcement. (Please refer to the NHTRC’s Confidentiality Policy.)

Find out the age of consent in your state

The legal consequences of sexual exploitation or involvement in commercial sex for a minor can depend on the age of consent, which varies from state to state. For example, the age of consent in California is 18, while in Connecticut it’s 16.

Become familiar with the laws in your state

The laws regarding human trafficking also vary state by state. While federal law defines any minor involved in commercial sex as a victim of human trafficking, each state varies in how human trafficking charges are handled.

The State Map from Polaris shows a list of current state laws and service providers for human trafficking victims/survivors for each state.

Understand child pornography laws

Images of child pornography are not protected under First Amendment rights, and are illegal contraband under federal law. Section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code, defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under the age of 18).

Visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor, and images created, adapted, or modified, but which appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor.

Visual depictions created by a minor of themselves of another minor are also considered child pornography.

To report an incident involving the production, possession, distribution, or receipt of child pornography, file a report on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)’s website at or call 1-800-843-5678. Your report will be forwarded to a law enforcement agency for investigation and action.

You should also report the incident to federal, state, or local law enforcement.

Understand statutory rape laws

If a minor under the age of consent has engaged in sexual activity with someone over 18, but it did not involve an exchange of money or goods, it is possible that the abuser can be charged for statutory rape.

In cases of statutory rape, it’s possible that the child may not see it as abuse or exploitation, but rather a sexual/romantic relationship with an older person.

In statutory rape, overt force or threat need not be present, because a minor is legally incapable of giving consent to the act.

Refer to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ summary of current state laws.




“P.I.M.P.” by 50 Cent

I don’t know what you heard about me
But a bitch can’t get a dollar out of me
No Cadillac, no perms, you can’t see
That I’m a motherfuckin’ P I M P (x2)

Now shorty, she in the club, she dancin’ for dollars
She got a thing for that Gucci, that Fendi, that Prada
That BCBG, Burberry, Dolce and Gabana
She feed them foolish fantasies, they pay her ’cause they wanna

I spit a little G man, and my game got her
A hour later, have that ass up in the Ramada
Them trick niggas in her ear sayin’ they think about her
I got the bitch by the bar, tryin’ to get a drink up out her

She like my style, she like my smile, she like the way I talk
She from the country, think she like me ’cause I’m from New York
I ain’t that nigga tryin’ to holla ’cause I want some head
I’m that nigga tryin’ to holla ’cause I want some bread

I could care less how she perform when she in the bed
Bitch hit that track, catch a date, and come and pay the kid
Look baby this is simple, you can’t see
You fuckin’ with me, you fuckin’ with a P I M P


I’m ’bout my money you see, girl you can holla at me
If you fuckin’ with me, I’m a P I M P
Not what you see on TV, no Cadillac, no greasy
Head full of hair, bitch I’m a P I M P

Come get money with me, if you curious to see
How it feels to be with a P I M P
Roll in the Benz with me, you could watch TV
From the backseat of my V, I’m a P I M P

Girl we could pop some champagne and we could have a ball
We could toast to the good life, girl we could have it all
We could really splurge girl, and tear up the mall
If ever you needed someone, I’m the one you should call

I’ll be there to pick you up, if ever you should fall
If you got problems, I can solve ’em, they big or they small
That other nigga you be with ain’t ’bout shit
I’m your friend, your father, and confidant, bitch!


I told you fools before, I stay with the tools
I keep a Benz, some rims, and some jewels
I holla at a hoe, till I got a bitch confused
She got on Payless, me I got on gator shoes

I’m shoppin’ for chinchillas, in the summer they cheaper
Man this hoe you can have her, when I’m done I ain’t gonna keep her
Man, bitches come and go, every nigga pimpin’ know
You sayin’ it’s secret, but you ain’t gotta keep it on the low

Bitch choose with me, I’ll have you strippin’ in the street
Put my other hoes down, you get your ass beat
Now nik my bottom bitch, she always come up with my bread
The last nigga she was with, put stitches in her head

Get your hoe out of pocket, I’ll put a charge on a bitch
‘Cause I need 4 TVs and AMGs for the six
Hoe make a pimp rich, I ain’t payin’ bitch
Catch a date, suck a dick, shit, trick!


Yeah, in Hollywoood they say, there’s no b’ness like show b’ness
In the hood they say, there’s no b’ness like hoe b’ness, you know
They say I talk a lil’ fast, but if you listen a lil’ faster
I ain’t gotta slow down for you to catch up, bitch!




Examples of victim blaming: Sexual assault cases from Steubenville, Ohio, and Sayreville, New Jersey

A 16-year old girl, Amy,* left a party around midnight with several football players, including Tyler* and Michael.*

Her friends tried to talk her out of leaving. She had drunk a lot of alcohol and was already stumbling and slurring her words. The group left to go to a second party where people said Amy looked “out of it.” They only stayed about 20 minutes before leaving. Some say Amy needed help walking, while others say she had to be carried out. She woke up long enough to throw up in the street, a witness said. They also said her shirt had been taken off.

On the way to a third party, Tyler sexually assaulted Amy in the back seat while his friends took video and pictures. When they arrived at the last party, Tyler assaulted her again. Now unconscious, Amy was stripped and assaulted by Michael. One of Tyler’s friends said he told them to wait until she woke up, but Tyler said, “It’s alright. Don’t worry.” The boys took more photos of her and some went back to the second party and shared them with friends.

Later, Amy said she couldn’t remember much about the night, except for a short time at the second party. She said she woke up the next morning in a basement living room with Tyler and others, and couldn’t find her underwear, flip-flops, phone, and earrings. The boys—and others—shared comments, video, and photos from the night through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and text messages. One photo posted on Instagram shows two boys carrying Amy, who had passed out, around by her wrists and ankles.

*Name has been changed to protect victim identity. Names of the perpetrators have also been changed because of their age at the time of the assault.
Photo by Keith Srakocic, Associated Press.


Harassment in the locker room at Sayreville War Memorial High School was not an uncommon thing for freshmen members of the football team.

They were constantly harassed by varsity players, and many would actually rush to the locker room to get dressed before more senior players could push them around. “They slinked away when the older varsity boys barreled in, blasting their music, shooting each other with Nerf guns and stripping down with the kind of confidence that freshmen could only fake.”

But the harassment didn’t stop there; one night, after the second game of the season, it went too far. It started with a howling noise from a senior football player, and then the lights would flicker until the locker room went completely dark. Two witnesses reported that the seniors “tripped a freshman in a T-shirt and football pants, letting loud music muffle any noise the boy made as he fell. Two pinned the younger boy’s arms, while others punched and kicked him—not viciously, but hard enough to matter, two witnesses said.”

In the darkness, the freshman football player was sexually assaulted by multiple upperclassmen. Some pinned the boy to the floor while the others committed the sexual assault.

Three similar locker room assaults occurred later in the season. In total, four boys have shared stories of their assault—some were as young as 13.

*Quotes from The New York Times, “Football Players in Sayreville, N.J., Recall Hazing” By Nate Schweber, Kim Barker and Jason Grant.
Photo by William Perlman, Associated Press.


Questions to consider:

  • To what extent do you think the victims were at fault for the incident?
  • In what ways could the victim blaming of the incident be harmful to the victim?
  • What is the role of the bystanders who may have seen/heard about the abuse?
  • How could this incident have been prevented?
  • If you heard reports of a similar incident in your school/organization, how would you react? What questions would you ask?
  • How would you feel about the incident if a child you work with was the victim?
  • How would you feel about the incident if a child you work with was one of the perpetrators or bystanders?
  • How do you teach the children you work with to respect others and find value in every human being?

When a guilty verdict was announced in the Steubenville case, mainstream media coverage was full of victim blaming. CNN discussed how the boys were “promising students.” ABC made excuses for the rapists, saying that they were “in a celebratory mood” the night of the assault. NBC lamented the boys’ “promising football careers.” The Associated Press and USA Today stressed that the victim was drunk. Yahoo News went so far as to say that the victim has forced the town into an emotional situation.

Helping children question victim-blaming language and reporting can help victims disclose information about their own abuse, an important step for healing and preventing future exploitation.

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