Child Sex Trafficking
Child sex trafficking has been reported in all 50 states, including in Colorado.
Child sex trafficking is child abuse. Child sex trafficking can happen in every community and affects children of every age, all genders, races and from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Child sex trafficking is often a hidden crime and sometimes, children or youth may not even view themselves as victims.
Child sex traffickers can also be all genders, races and from all socioeconomic backgrounds. In some cases, traffickers may even be the child’s parent or caregiver.
Movies and media often portray kids being kidnapped into child sex trafficking. However, more commonly, vulnerable young people are identified, groomed and recruited by traffickers over time. Traffickers frequently use social media to identify and recruit victims.
Vulnerabilities that put a child or youth at greater risk for sex trafficking:
- A history of running away
- Homelessness with no consistent caregiver
- Identifies as LGBTQIA (and has experienced family rejection, harassment, etc.)
- Prior victimization
- Prior child welfare or juvenile justice involvement
- Lack of local community support
- Economic instability
- Lack of educational and/or social-economic opportunities
- Substance abuse issues with self or at home with family members
- Physical/intellectual disabilities
Child sex trafficking victims may not talk about their experience with an adult, so it’s important to recognize the signs of abuse. High-risk indicators a child or youth may already be involved in sex trafficking:
- A child or youth possesses money, cell phone or other material items that cannot be explained or accounted for
- Self-reports participation in a sexual act in exchange for shelter, transportation, drugs, alcohol, money or other items of value
- Uses the Internet to post sexually explicit material (e.g. pictures, chats, advertisements, etc.)
- Is accompanied by an overly controlling “friend,” “partner,” or “boss”
Physical and emotional indicators such as:
- Injuries, signs of physical or sexual abuse
- Signs of drug and/or alcohol dependency
- Difficulty sitting or standing, ‘stomach aches’
- STIs, especially in youth younger than 14
- Tattoos, or scars a child or youth is hesitant to explain
- Increased anxiety
- Increased submissive behavior
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Even if you’re unsure, never hesitate to report suspicious situations by calling 1-844-CO-4-KIDS. If a child is in immediate danger, dial 911.
Reporting signs is an important role we can all play in stopping child sex trafficking in Colorado.
With help from county human services departments, victims of sex trafficking will have better access to treatment and recovery services specifically geared toward the trauma that they may have experienced.