Bought and Sold: Recognizing and Assisting Youth Victims of Domestic Sex Trafficking

Photograph of a young person hiding in the shadows.


Domestic minor sex trafficking refers to the commercial sexual exploitation of any American citizen or legal resident under the age of 18. Victims include boys, girls, and transgender youth as young as 12—or even younger. They are recruited, exploited and victimized by traffickers or pimps within the United States.

Young people whose bodies are bought and sold for sex are not criminals. They are victims of physical, psychological and emotional violence.

The impact of commercial sexual exploitation on young victims is often devastating. They face violence, disease and jail. Before they are even old enough to vote, they lose their dignity and their freedom. They suffer trauma that may never go away.

Indentifying and providing services to young victims of commercial sexual exploitation should be a top priority of communities and professionals serving families across the nation.

This brochure is for youth and family services professionals who come in direct contact with young people who may be sexually exploited or trafficked. By reading it, you’ll learn who is most at risk, what to look for, what exploited and trafficked young people need, and where you can get additional resources and support.

NEXT: Some Youth Are More at Risk

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