What is Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)?
Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking is the commercial sexual exploitation of American children within US borders through prostituition, pornography and /or erotic entertainment.
· Child sex slavery
· Prostitution of children
· Demand driven and the product for sale is local (domestic) children
Every night thousands of children walk the street of U.S. cities prostituting themselves, caught up in a vicious cycle of abuse. They come from cities, small towns, and rural areas of every corner of our country. They have run away from sexually or physically abusive family situations or from the pressures and problems that are so common to all teens and adolescents. They have been lured away from their homes by false promises of new and exciting lives. Some have even been kidnapped. What these children have found is a life that in no way reflects the glamour that Hollywood would want us to believe is the life of prostitution in such films such as “Pretty Woman” and “Showgirls”. Instead, they are victims of abuse and degradation that would horrify most people.
Who are the victims of commercial sexual exploitation?
Victims of child sexual exploitation could be of any age, ethnicity, race, religion, socio-economic class, gender and sexual orientation.
Who is especially vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation?
Children most vulnerable to sexual exploitation are those who are neglected, runaway/thrown-away/homeless, poor, drug-involved, or who have a history of abuse, and are within the foster care and child protective services systems.
Why don’t victims seek help?
Commercial sexual exploitation victims often feel that they have no safe place to turn. Most victims are isolated from family and friends, and are in captivity or confinement. They may feel fear, shame, self-blame, or hopelessness. Due to isolation, they may also be dependent upon the pimp/trafficker. Many times, prostituted youth have been groomed by pimps to distrust systems and law enforcement, and they are not aware of existing services. Victims are regularly subjected to threats, physical/sexual/psychological abuse, and live in fear of their pimps/traffickers.
Who are the pimps/traffickers?
They are anyone who benefits from the commercial sexual exploitation of a youth/minor (under 18 years old), or facilitates the commercial sexual exploitation of a youth/minor. Pimps/traffickers can be anyone (boyfriend, father, mother, brother, uncle, even a peer), of any gender, age, or ethnicity, and are not always organized criminals.
Who are the buyers?
Buyers or “johns” are recipients of the sexual services. They can be of any age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. They are equally as responsible for the crime, despite their lack of intent or knowledge of age or victim status.
Some DMST Facts
- Child exploitation is a five billion dollar ($5,000,000,000) per year international industry.
- Majority of victims are between the ages of 12 – 14 years old.
- Children as young as 10 are actively recruited for sexual exploitation or pornography.
- Exploited children come from a wide variety of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds and represent a cross-section of urban, suburban, and rural youth. The picket-fenced home and faith filled family is no exception.
- There are more than two and a half million runaway and throwaway youth on the streets of our nation at any given time and over one third of those left home due to sexual abuse.
- The sex industry is about power, and the predators stalking these victims avoid anyone who may be uncontrollable or dangerous.
- Anyone can be a trafficker including family members
- 450,000 children run away from home every year. (U.S. Department of Justice)
- An estimated 10-15% of children living on the streets have been sexually exploited. (Estes and Weiner, 2001)
- 1 out 3 teens on the streets will be lured into sexual exploitation within 48 hours of leaving home. (National Runaway Hotline)
- The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14. For boys and transgender youth, the average age into prostitution is 11 to 13. (Estes and Weiner, 2001)
- Approximately 55% of homeless girls engage in formal prostitution; of the girls engaged in formal prostitution, about 75% worked for a pimp. (Estes and Weiner, 2001)
- Between 100,000 and 3 million teens are prostituted in the United States every year. (Department of Justice)