By Julissa Higgins
Most people think that teenage sex trafficking is a thing of the past, something that only happens in other countries, that for some reason, America is exempt from its horrors. Unfortunately, nothing is further from the truth. Teenage sex trafficking has been dubbed “modern day slavery”, and it is a common practice in America.
Many of the victims are girls eager to get away from their household, and oftentimes, they seek attention that they felt they didn’t receive at home. And as a result, they end up falling into a grave that is often too deep to climb out of. Many times they are lured by attractive men, taken into strange cars, or brought in by other women who are already sex slaves themselves.
Although teens of both genders are taken in, the most common victims are girls around 13 years of age who are forced to have sex with 20 to 48 men a day on average.
Girls at such a tender age are so easily convinced, manipulated, exploited. Most of the people in this business prey on the vulnerabilities of these girls and use their naivety as their most powerful weapon.
One of the most horrendous dangers of teenage sex trafficking is that it can happen to any girl. There is no set common description of the girls brought into the business because traffickers don’t care as long as they have bodies to work for them, because for sex traffickers, it is a good business and easy money.
In fact, according to statistics provided by the Covering House, an organization that protects and houses girls that were formerly enslaved, “human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly in the United States”, and a “pimp” can obtain an annual $200,000 per girl.
The internet has also made it significantly easier to lure girls into this business, partly because not many people think twice about posting their personal information online. It seems like common sense to not put your address, school, or location online on a regular basis, but people do it anyways. If your information online is not on private and shared only with your friends, it is shared with the entire world and anyone can find you. Most people are never taught about internet safety, and although most know about the dangers of the internet, we don’t believe we could ever fall prey to such horrendous crimes.
It is not uncommon for girls stuck in the business to be unable to escape, to feel like they have no way out, and as a result, they don’t try. Their captors degrade them to the point of mental exhaustion. For most victims, this is enough to make them feel trapped.
Although many girls are promised economic safety, careers in show business, or modeling contracts, some are simply taken from their own driveways – all of them thrust into a world where they are stripped of their innocence, of their dignity, of their own selves.
Captors are especially good at luring girls in: they always know what to say, what girls like to hear; they’re experts at manipulation They stay up to date with the biggest trends, know where teens hang out, how they talk. They study young girl enough to successfully infiltrate their minds.
Many organizations fight to stop and prevent teenage sex trafficking. Covenant House, for example, not only rescues teens that have been trafficked, but also advocates laws to stop trafficking. There is no easy fix, but these types of organizations are great ways to start.
“In order to alleviate the sex trafficking industry it is important to make prostitution and the selling of sex legal on some level,” says Elaine Cheng, an economics major at Harvard University. “That economy exists because it cannot exist above ground. Legalizing it allows the government to place regulations. The problem is that people are so anti-sex-trafficking that they allow themselves to also be very averse to legalization. They don’t want to try to employ methods to alleviate the problem but they also don’t like that it exists.”