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CSEC or Child Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking affects children, too.

It’s a hard statistic, but 1 in 6 children reported missing in the U.S. are likely victims of child sex trafficking, one of a number of crimes defined by the Department of Justice to be Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). That means any crime involving the exchange of sex for something of value: money, clothing, jewelry or accessories, or even more basic needs like food or shelter.

In 2021, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received 17,200 reports of possible child sex trafficking in the U.S. Child sex trafficking is a crime that occurs in all 50 states, including here in Pennsylvania. 

While all children are potential victims for this insidious and often hidden crime, some are particularly vulnerable to being exploited—runaway youth, children in foster care or with prior histories of sexual abuse, children with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQIA + communities.

We know this to be a severely underreported crime. There is no accurate count of the number of children who are exploited for commercial gain, but many Children’s Advocacy Centers in the Commonwealth have reported working with exploited children.

In Pennsylvania, there are 41 local Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) that respond to all forms of child abuse. In 2019 our centers saw more than 16,000 children across the state, providing child-focused investigation, medical exams, and referrals for trauma-informed therapy to held kids and families heal from abuse.

What Pennsylvanians need to know about child sex trafficking in our state

Abbie Newman, a PennCAC Board member and CEO of Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County, joins the Fox29 Philadelphia morning news team to discuss child sex trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children during Nation Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January. 

Local anti-trafficking organizations share their work on the frontlines of response

KYW Newsradio’s Bridging Philly podcast highlights regional nonprofits including Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, where trauma-focused therapist Alea Cummings works with child victims of trafficking crimes.

If you are a victim of any age, or you believe you may know someone who is being trafficked, contact the National Trafficking Reporting Hotline.

Learn more about CACs in Pennsylvania.

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