Confronting Commercial Exploitation and Trafficking:

About Human Trafficking:

When we hear the term human trafficking, we often think of brothels in third world countries. In the United States, the terms Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) are often used interchangeably to describe the problem of trafficking within our own borders.

Teenage youth are being used in the commercial sex industry at an alarming rate. They are exploited through prostitution, pornography and sexual entertainment. The growing demand for sex with youth is fueled by the normalization of sexual exploitation through an advertising and entertainment world that commodifies youth.

Girl at park

Vulnerable teens are often targeted by traffickers and exploiters. Those most highly at risk include youth in the foster system, runaways, victims of physical and sexual abuse, those with social deficits, and who come from homes marked by instability. Exploiters seek them out and fill emotional voids by playing the role of the absentee parent or a loyal boyfriend. Trauma bonding takes place quickly as youth latch on to the hope of unconditional love and acceptance. Desperate to maintain that connection, they are often willing to comply with anything that is asked of them. When they refuse, force and violence come into play.

Once the teen has been exploited, it is extremely difficult for them to leave due to fear, shame, confusion, stigma, and a lack of available resources. They are indoctrinated to believe that their situation was their choice, that it is now their lot in life and that they will no longer be accepted by the rest of society. For many who are able to escape, that fear is often a reality and, out of desperation, they return to their exploiter.

Girls on bench

 From the Indiana Office of the Attorney General:

2020 Indiana State Report on Human Trafficking (PDF)

From the Human Trafficking Institute:

2019 Federal Human Trafficking Report (PDF)

Learn more about human trafficking through these Book and Movie Discussion Guides

Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd of GEMS
With the power and verity of First They Killed My Father and A Long Way Gone, Rachel Lloyd’s riveting survivor story is the true tale of her hard-won escape from the commercial sex industry and her bold founding of GEMS, New York City’s Girls Education and Mentoring Service, to help countless other young girls escape “the life.” Lloyd’s unflinchingly honest memoir is a powerful and unforgettable story of inhuman abuse, enduring hope, and the promise of redemption.
Download the Discussion Guide

Make It Zero by Mary Francis Bowley of Wellspring Living
Children and adults who are victims of the worst kind of exploitation didn’t start out that way. They all have one thing in common: they’ve grown up with one or more significant risks. Poverty, Hunger, Abuse, Isolation and more are all factors that contribute to making them vulnerable.

If we can eliminate these issues, we can eliminate the risk of exploitation. Through dynamic stories of those who have overcome these factors and those who are making great strides for change, ZERO gives readers a road map for correcting these issues permanently to create a world where all children in America are safe – and safeguarded.
Download the Discussion Guide

Renting Lacy by Linda Smith of Shared Hope International
The average age of entry into prostitution in America is 13 years old. Forced into a life they never chose, manipulated, abused and tortured at the hands of the pimps who control them, our country’s children are sold on the streets, on the internet and at truck stops across America every night. They arent bad kids who made bad choices. They are victims of child sex trafficking. They come from our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches, and sometimes our own homes. Author Linda Smith brings to life characters based on real stories and interviews with teen survivors. Meet Lacy and Star as they reveal the underbelly of our country s commercial sex trade. Get to know the men who sell them, and the ones who buy them. Let Renting Lacy draw you into the lives of these young girls as they struggle to survive each night, watching their childhood hopes and dreams slip away in the darkness.
Download the Discussion Guide

Walking Prey by Holly Austin Smith
Today, two cultural forces are converging to make America’s youth easy targets for sex traffickers. Younger and younger girls are engaging in adult sexual attitudes and practices, and the pressure to conform means thousands have little self-worth and are vulnerable to exploitation. At the same time, thanks to social media, texting, and chatting services, predators are able to ferret out their victims more easily than ever before. In Walking Prey, advocate and former victim Holly Austin Smith shows how middle class suburban communities are fast becoming the new epicenter of sex trafficking in America. Smith speaks from experience: Without consistent positive guidance or engagement, Holly was ripe for exploitation at age fourteen. A chance encounter with an older man led her to run away from home, and she soon found herself on the streets of Atlantic City. Her experience led her, two decades later, to become one of the foremost advocates for trafficking victims.
Download the Discussion Guide

Downloadable Fliers:

A121 Recommended Resources

A121 Online Dangers – help for Parents

Human Trafficking Indicators (courtesy of Polaris)

Resources for Educators  (courtesy of Polaris)

Resources for Healthcare Professionals (courtesy of Polaris)

2020 Report Card Changes (courtesy of Shared Hope International)

2019 Indiana Report Card (courtesy of Shared Hope International)

2019 Indiana Legal Analysis (courtesy of Shared Hope International)

2018 Indiana State Report Card (courtesy of Shared Hope International)

2018 Indiana Legal Analysis and Recommendations (courtesy of Shared Hope International)

2017 Indiana State Report Card (courtesy of Shared Hope International)

2017 Indiana Legal Analysis and Recommendations (courtesy of Shared Hope International)