Victims of human trafficking can be women, men, children, people of any race and socio-economic background, as well as US citizens or foreigners.
Nationally, the average age at which girls first become exploited through prostitution is 12-14 years.⁸ ¹⁰ However, direct service providers around the country report they have been encountering increasingly younger victims over the past decade. For example, service providers in New York City report that the average age that girls enter prostitution has dropped from 14 to 13 or 12 years of age in recent years. The average age that boys and transgender youth begin prostitution is even younger: 11-13 years old.⁸
Populations at risk include: runaway and homeless youth; victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and neglect; people with regular exposure to pornography; people who are socially discriminated against including people of color and LGBTQ individuals; and foreign immigrants who don’t speak English. These populations are all highly targeted in a strategic and focused way.
Runaways are especially at risk. It takes about 48 hours for a trafficker to spot and pick up a runaway youth.2 Abusive family situations, gang involvement and initiation, unsuitable foster placements, and the Internet all give rise to runaways who can be quickly exploited as victims of sex trafficking.
Victims Obtained Through
- Direct recruitment with false promises of love, money, safety, and belonging
- Internet advertising, social media, Backpage.com
- Employment agencies
- Offers of high paying jobs
- Modeling agencies
- Career fairs
- Educational opportunities
- Illegal foreign adoptions
- Public advertisements
- Other victims