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Know the signs

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation can take many forms including these examples:

  • Sex Trafficking (also see definition of sex trafficking provided below)
  • Using a child for prostitution
  • Taking pictures of a child for pornographic use
  • Denying age-appropriate privacy to a child who is dressing, undressing, or using the bathroom

Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is increasingly being recognized as a serious international problem that often targets children who have been victims of abuse and neglect. CSEC comprises sexual abuse and payment in money, goods, or services — or the promise of money goods, or services — to the child victim or a third person or persons for the sexual use of a child. CSEC includes sex trafficking and sex tourism.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Definitions

Child Pornography — Any visual or audio material of a child engaged in real or simulated sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child, the dominant characteristic of which is depiction for a sexual purpose.

Survival Sex Individuals who have traded sex acts (including prostitution, stripping, pornography, etc.) to meet the basic needs for survival (i.e., food, shelter, safety, etc.) without the overt force, fraud or coercion of a trafficker, but who felt that their circumstances left little or no other option.

Child Any person younger than age 18 is considered a child under U.S. law.

Pimp/TraffickerAny person who benefits in cash or kind by pimping, trafficking, recruiting, restraining, advertising, recording, filming, coordinating, housing, transporting, selling or otherwise making a child available to a third person or persons for sexual purposes. 

Sex Trafficking The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 defines “sex trafficking” as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for a commercial sex act. Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.

Sex Tourism The commercial sexual exploitation of children by men or women who travel from one place to another for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts with children, younger than age 18. Sex tourism can occur between countries as well as within countries.


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