January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and Darkness to Light is offering a prevention education course at no charge to individuals and organizations focusing on child sexual abuse and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). The training focuses on the root cause of CSEC and why preventing sexual abuse is important in reducing the risk of children being sexually exploited. The training is an hour long and can be taken online here.
Human trafficking affects the most vulnerable in our society: children. No matter where you live, chances are it is happening nearby. Sex trafficking, a type of human trafficking, is when someone is traded for the purpose of sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation. Some victims are sold for sex by their parents or family members, some are lured with false promises of jobs, and some become romantically involved with someone who then exploits them. Traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars globally each year.
Sex trafficking includes the commercial sexual exploitation of children and occurs when individuals buy, trade, or sell sexual acts with a child. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, with 5.4 million of them being children. CSEC is an egregious human rights, public health, and criminal justice violation.
Often, CSEC is viewed differently than child sexual abuse. However, CSEC is a form of child sexual abuse. The National Institute of Justice reports that 70-90% of children who are sexually trafficked were sexually abused in a non-commercial manner prior to being trafficked. If we prevent or intervene early in child sexual abuse, it is possible that we can interrupt the path to CSEC.
Preventing CSEC is possible when adults are educated and can recognize the signs of abuse. Many victims of CSEC live at home and attend school. Despite the exploitation, these children still interact with educators, youth-serving professionals, and the public every day. Training community members, teachers, and youth-serving professionals to recognize the signs and intervene in sexual abuse and exploitation can help thwart the progression of commercial exploitation for some children and will help ensure that these victims receive services they need.