HOW DO HUMAN TRAFFICKERS TARGET CHILDREN?
How Do Human Traffickers Target Children?
Young children and teens are targeted in their neighborhoods, at school, at the mall and other popular teen hangouts, and on college campuses. Social media and the Internet are common tools used to recruit children and teens and turn them into sex trafficking victims. While runaways and homeless teens are frequent targets, children in all types of family situations are vulnerable to the manipulations of traffickers.
Traffickers frequently become involved with children and teens by offering attention and care. The specific processes used can vary depending upon the age of the child, the child’s family situation, and a number of other factors.
When targeting homeless or runaway teens, traffickers can make promises of food and shelter. The child can be manipulated into “survival sex,” turning to prostitution to get food and shelter.
Vulnerable children and teens with changing family situations or troubled relationships with parents may also be targeted by a sex trafficker who plays the role of father or lover. Care is offered, flattery and attention are directed at the child or teen, and the target may be given gifts or made to feel valued and appreciated. Eventually, the trafficker begins to make suggestions of prostitution and the trusting child or teen agrees in order to keep the trafficker’s love and attention.