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     Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States
This OJJDP-sponsored report examines current approaches to addressing commercial sexual exploitation of children, identifies causes and consequences for both victims and offenders, and highlights recommendations to prevent, identify, and respond to these crimes.

Full Report, 2013

Report Infographic (PDF, HTML), 2014

A Guide for the Health Care Sector, 2014

A Guide for the Legal Sector, 2014

A Guide for Providers of Victim and Support Services, 2014

Myths and Facts, 2013

Additional Resources

Report Infographic
The sexual abuse and exploitation of children rob the victims of their childhood, irrevocably interfering with their emotional and psychological development. Ensuring that all children come of age without being impacted by sexual trauma or exploitation is more than a criminal justice issue, it is a societal issue. Despite current efforts, the threat of child sexual exploitation remains very real, and can occur in the home, on the street, over the Internet, in the U.S., or overseas.

The Department of Justice's National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, first published in 2010 and updated in 2016, identified innovative ways in which the federal government and its partners can address child exploitation and reaffirms the Department's and its partners' unwavering commitment to ensuring that all children in America are able to reach their potential in a nation that protects them from violence and abuse.

Established in 1998, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC program) helps state and local law enforcement agencies develop effective responses to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and Internet crimes against children. This assistance encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, and community education. The ICAC program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing more than 3,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are engaged in both proactive and reactive investigations, forensic investigations, and criminal prosecutions. In addition to funding the task forces, OJJDP funds several training and technical assistance providers in investigative techniques, peer-to-peer investigations, and forensic examinations.

Girls and the Juvenile Justice System Policy Guidance
OJJDP's Policy Guidance addresses the practice of placing girls and young women who are status offenders or domestic minor sex trafficking victims in the juvenile justice system.
Following are examples of other OJJDP-funded efforts to combat the sexual exploitation of children:

  • With OJJDP funding, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Fox Valley Technical College provide services through the AMBER Alert Program. The Office of Justice Programs' Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason serves as the National AMBER Alert Coordinator. Services provided include training of law enforcement personnel, secondary distribution of AMBER Alerts, and development of resources specifically for Indian Country where practitioners who live and work in tribal communities and understand the unique dynamics of protecting children in tribal areas design and deliver programs.

  • OJJDP's Mentoring Child Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Initiative supports organizations that respond to the needs of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic sex trafficking. This initiative has two components: project sites and training and technical assistance. Project sites work to develop or enhance their mentoring capacity, facilitate outreach efforts, and increase the availability of direct services for child victims (17 years old or younger) of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic sex trafficking. Currently, project sites are located in Boston, MA, Milwaukee, WI, Miami, FL, Wichita, KS, El Paso, TX and Oakland, CA. Training and technical assistance is provided to project sites by the Mid-Atlantic Network of Youth and Family Services (MANY).

  • The OJJDP Missing and Exploited Children Training and Technical Assistance Program provides multi-disciplinary training and technical assistance to prosecutors, state and local law enforcement and child protection personnel, medical providers, and other child-serving professionals to strengthen multidisciplinary responses to and improve prosecution of child victimization cases. The first two curriculums under development are "Multi-Disciplinary Team Training for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children" and "Child Abuse and Exploitation Investigation."

  • The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has created the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Child Sex Trafficking and a curriculum to help judicial officers better understand the dynamics of domestic child sex trafficking, the applicable laws and legal considerations involving trafficking victims, and how to identify children at risk of or being trafficked and how to connect them to appropriate services.

  • The Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States 2013-2017 lays out a five-year plan to further strengthen coordination, collaboration, and capacity across governmental and nongovernmental entities that support victims of human trafficking. OJJDP is a strong supporter and partner in this plan.

  • OJJDP's National Training and Technical Assistance Center supports the juvenile justice field through webinars and the dissemination of information on various topics related to child sex trafficking and child exploitation.

  • The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and OJJDP work closely on all of NCMEC's activities supported with OJJDP funding. These include: Child Sex Trafficking Team, Sex Offender Tracking Team, Child Victim Identification Program and training and technical assistance on a variety of missing and exploited children's topics. Finally, NCMEC operates the CyberTipline which receives leads and tips regarding suspected incidents of sexual exploitation committed against children (since its inception in 1998, the Center has received more than 6.9 million reports).


In addition, OJJDP supports the following research projects on the commercial sexual exploitation of children:

  • The Urban Institute's study of New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth engaging in survival sex.
    • Learn more about this study by accessing the February 2015 Urban Institute report: Surviving the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW Engaged in Survival Sex, Urban Institute. NCJRS Abstract, Full Report
  • The Center for Court Innovation's examination of commercial sexual exploitation victims in six sites (Atlantic City, NJ; Bay Area, CA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Las Vegas, NV; and Miami, FL). Learn more about the study and access the resulting site reports.
  • The Development Services Group, Inc.'s assessment of the impact of Safe Harbor legislation in terms of increasing service delivery to victims.
  • The Johns Hopkins University's assessments of the impact of Safe Harbor legislation in terms of decreasing arrests for juvenile prostitution.
  • Impact Justice is conducting interdisciplinary analyses describing disparities in the pathways into incarceration for Lesbian, Bisexual, Questioning, Gender Nonconforming and Transgender (LBQ/GNCT) girls incarcerated for "prostitution."

OJJDP Materials:

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children/Sex Trafficking Literature Review, OJJDP-Sponsored, August 2014

Effects of Federal Legislation on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, OJJDP-Produced, July 2010

Measurement and Analysis of Child Pornography Trafficking on P2P Networks, Final Technical Report, OJJDP-Sponsored, September 2014

Missing Children, State Care, and Child Sex Trafficking: Engaging the Judiciary in Building a Collaborative Response, OJJDP-Sponsored, June 2015

Youth Involvement in the Sex Trade: A National Study, OJJDP-Sponsored, March 2016


OJJDP Online OJJDP's National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) provides access to upcoming and past training opportunities on related topics. The following training archives are available on OJJDP's NTTAC site:

Boys and Trafficking: Identifying and Serving Silent Survivors
October 2015
This webinar will discuss the prevalence of boys among survivors of trafficking, and some of the unique challenges that exist for them. Presenters will share new data about the prevalence of human trafficking among boys and how one local jurisdiction is responding to the needs of male trafficking victims in their community.

Child Sex Trafficking: A Training Series for Frontline Officers Online Training Course
This training, available only to law enforcement officers, will educate frontline officers on how to recognize and respond to victims of child sex trafficking. This is a series of training videos which depicts sworn law enforcement officers demonstrating alterative responses to different types of scenarios involving child sex trafficking.

Child Trafficking, Girls, and Detention: A Call to Reform
September 2013
This 1.5 hour Webinar features presenters from Rights4Girls and the National Girls Institute who address child sex trafficking and the subsequent need for services for these victims.

Child Trafficking and Juvenile Justice
November 2014
The learning objectives associated with this webinar are to: discuss what sex trafficking is, how it impacts its victims, and the history of U.S. responses to this complicated problem; explore the intersection of trafficking with juvenile and criminal justice, particularly for high-risk populations like runaway and homeless youth; and share current federal and state laws to prevent the criminalization of trafficking victims, along with efforts underway among juvenile justice agencies, State Advisory Groups and others.

Gang Trafficking Case Study - Overview of Criminal Investigation, Services Provided, and Victim Engagement
October 2015
The learning objectives associated with this webinar are to: discuss the challenges confronting investigators with reluctant child victims of commercial sex exploitation; demonstrate the importance of collaborative efforts between law enforcement and victim services by empowering and strengthening victims; and provide examples of successful practices that enabled a victim, unwilling to assist law enforcement, to become engaged and actively participate in criminal proceedings.

Human Trafficking From a Survivor's Perspective
October 2014
During this webinar, Asia Graves, human trafficking survivor and survivor advocate, shared her journey from exploitation to empowerment. Asia discussed the factors that led to her running away from home and entering "the life". She provided her perspective on the characteristics of victims of trafficking, circumstances that make trafficking victims vulnerable to reentering "the life", and methods to best support victims during investigations.

Human Trafficking in Schools
July 2015
This case study webinar event connects participants directly with the experts to explore and respond to a real-life scenario on human trafficking in schools.

The Intersections Between Drug and Human Trafficking in Tribal Communities
April 2015
The webinar host discusses the scope of gangs, drugs, and exploitation infiltration in tribal communities. He also expands upon drug trafficking and its intersections to human trafficking in tribal communities and provides a case study outlining the complexity of these investigations. Participants will be provided with recommendations and strategies for combating these issues within tribal communities across the nation.

Introduction to Child Sex Trafficking: Awareness and Response (ICSTAR)
This National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's free online self-paced course focuses on the unique dynamics involved in working with a minor victim of sex trafficking. This course is designed for child-serving professionals, including forensic interview specialists, law enforcement officers, victim advocates, prosecutors, health care providers, child protective service workers, child protection attorneys, and juvenile justice personnel.

Investigating and Prosecuting Human Trafficking
April 2015
The presenter will discuss best practices regarding the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking, working with victims, and proving cases in court.

Risk Factors and Indicators of Technology Facilitated Child Sex Trafficking and Exploitation
September 2014
This presentation will describe indicators and risk factors contributing to the victimization of youth by sex traffickers. The presenter will provide an overview of how technology facilitates child sex trafficking including the recruitment and control of victims and the marketing of victims for commercial sexual exploitation. The presenter will also focus on prevention through awareness and provide child protection tips to those who care for or supervise youth.

The Role of School Resource Officers in Combating Commercial Sexual Exploitation
March 2015
The webinar provides an overview of commercial sexual exploitation in schools. The presenters provide strategies for assessing and developing the capacity to coordinate responses that include school personnel, law enforcement, and the community.

Serving Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking: A Provider's Perspectives
June 2015
The host of this webinar discusses the eight types of exploitation and provides an overview of the current sex trade from the perspectives of providers in the child welfare system and on multi-disciplinary teams. Also provided are suggestions based on real life of examples, of "what works" when working with victims of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Participants will also learn about the services that are critical to the safety of victims.

Sex Trafficking and Exploitation in Indian Country
May 2015
This training is designed to provide tribal law enforcement investigators, human trafficking task force members and social service providers with the information necessary to properly understand, recognize, and investigate cases involving child sex trafficking and exploitation.

A Survivor's Perspective: Understanding Victims and Survivors
February 2015
The webinar host presents an overview of the various forms of control used by sex traffickers and shares her perspective as a survivor on how law enforcement can identify victims of sex trafficking and provide strategies to effectively address and respond to this issue.

Tribal and Trafficking: Child Victims
March 2015
This webinar provides an overview of child abuse and child trafficking within Indian Country. Also discussed are issues with reporting and criminal investigation, cultural considerations for providing services to victims of child abuse and sex trafficking, and recommendations for community outreach efforts to "break the silence" in Indian Country.

Working with Commercially Sexually Exploited and Domestically Trafficked Youth
November 2014
This webinar includes an overview of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking through addressing perception and language, identifying risk factors, and examining factors that contribute to commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking here in the United States.

Access more upcoming webinars, recorded webinars, classroom trainings, online self-study opportunities on OJJDP's NTTAC website.

Additional Websites:

AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program
The mission of the AMBER Alert program is to safely recover missing, endangered, or abducted children through the coordinated efforts of law enforcement, media, transportation, and other partners by using training and technology to enhance response capacities and capabilities and increase public participation.

ICAC Task Force Training
The ICAC Task Force was created to help Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative responses to offenders who use the Internet, online communication systems, or computer technology to sexually exploit children. The Program is funded by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children opened in 1984 to serve as the nation's clearinghouse on issues related to missing and sexually exploited children. Today NCMEC is authorized by Congress to perform 22 programs and services to assist law enforcement, families and the professionals who serve them.

OVC Online Directory of Crime Victim Services
OVC Online Directory of Crime Victim Services Search the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Online Directory of Crime Victim Services to locate nonemergency crime victim service agencies provided by not-for-profit programs and public agencies. Child Abduction, child physical or sexual abuse, and human trafficking are among the types of victimization services included in the Directory.

Project Safe Childhood
The Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood initiative was launched in May 2006 to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.