Sex trafficking is a type of human trafficking and is a form of modern day slavery. It is a serious public health problem that negatively affects the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Sex trafficking is defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act”. It involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to make an adult engage in commercial sex acts, or if a minor, to cause them to commit commercial sex acts. This type of violence exploits women, men, and children across the United States and around the world. Sex trafficking is preventable. Understanding the shared risk and protective factors for violence can help us prevent sex trafficking from happening in the first place.
Risk & Impact
Victims can come from all backgrounds and become trapped in different locations and situations.
- The majority of victims are women and girls, though men and boys are also impacted;
- Victims include all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, citizens, non-citizens, and income levels;
- Victims are trapped and controlled through assault, threats, false promises, perceived sense of protection, isolation, shaming, and debt; and
- Victims do not have to be physically transported between locations to be victimized.
Perpetrators of sex trafficking often target people who are poor, vulnerable, living in an unsafe situation, or searching for a better life. For example, youth with a history of abuse and neglect or who are homeless are more likely to be exploited. Learn how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
Consequences of sexual violence, including sex trafficking, can be immediate and long term, including physical and relationship problems, psychological concerns, and chronic health outcomes. Read more about common issues seen in victims of trafficking [44.4KB, 2Pages, Print Only].
What States and Communities Need to Know
Strategies based on the best available evidence exist to prevent different types of violence and they may also reduce sex trafficking. States and communities can implement comprehensive efforts that:
- Encourage healthy behaviors in relationships,
- Foster safe homes and neighborhoods,
- Reduce demand for commercial sex, and
- End business profits from related transactions.
CDC’s suite of technical packages can help states and communities take advantage of the best available evidence to prevent violence. Each package is intended as a resource to guide and inform prevention decision-making in communities and states. Learn more about how you can get started implementing the technical packages in your violence prevention work.
CDC’s Technical Packages for Violence Prevention
The technical packages help states and communities take advantage of the best available evidence to prevent violence.
Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership
Guide for community leaders, police officers, teachers, and community-services providers to understand what research says about keeping kids out of gangs and to make informed decisions about how to best use limited resources to prevent gang joining.
Child Maltreatment, Intimate Partner Violence [1.76MB, 164Pages, 508], and Sexual Violence Definitions [2.1MB, 136Pages, 508]
Consistent definitions for violence prevention practitioners and researchers to monitor incidence, examine trends, measure risk and protective factors, and inform prevention and intervention efforts.
Essentials for Childhood
A framework for communities committed to the positive development of children and families and to preventing child maltreatment and neglect.
Rape Prevention and Education Program (RPE)
RPE’s goal is to strengthen sexual violence prevention efforts at local, state, and national levels. It operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and four U.S. territories.
Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States 2013-2017 [3.48MB, 84Pages, Print Only]
This five-year plan provides guidance for strengthening coordination, collaboration, and capacity across government and non-government groups dedicated to providing support to trafficking victims.
Office on Trafficking in Persons
Administration for Children and Families initiative seeks to prevent human trafficking in all forms and ensure that victims have access to the services they need.
Rescue and Restore Tool Kits
Guidance provided to health care providers, social services organizations, and law enforcement on their roles in stopping trafficking.
Trafficking in Persons Report 2017
This resource provides an updated look at the nature and scope of trafficking and the range of government actions to confront and eliminate it.
Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 [393KB, 85Pages, Print Only]
This law was passed and reauthorized to stop trafficking in persons, especially into the sex trade, slavery, and involuntary servitude, and to reauthorize federal programs to prevent violence against women.
U.S. Laws on Trafficking in Persons
Acts passed to provide tools to monitor and stop trafficking and to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts.
Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States: A Guide for the Health Care Sector
This Institute of Medicine report summarizes the trafficking problem of minors and includes examples of health care sector practices to prevent and respond.
Expanding and Coordinating Human Trafficking-Related Public Health Research, Evaluation, Education, and Prevention
Policy statement from the American Public Health Association for professional schools, societies, and certifying bodies for to improvement of research, training, and anti-trafficking community interventions.
Human Trafficking in America’s Schools
This U.S. Department of Education guide helps school officials understand trafficking, recognize risks, and develop protocols and partnerships to prevent exploitation.