Types of Human Trafficking

There are 2 basic types of human trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

Sex Trafficking

Sex Trafficking is a criminal act of forcing, coercing, or transporting a person for the purposes of a paid commercial sex act. Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking - regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.

The average age of solicitation for sex trafficking is 12-14 years of age.⁴ ⁸ ¹⁰

The top sex trafficking venues in the U.S. are: hostess/strip clubs, commercial front brothels (fake massage parlors), Internet ads, on the street, and sex trafficking at hotels and motels.¹

Many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces or manipulates them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a high paying or exciting job. Some are forced to sell sex by their parents or other family members. Others are kidnapped and drugged and then trafficked for prostitution. All these victims share one thing in common: a loss of freedom.

Child Prostitution In The U.S., By The Numbers¹⁰

100,000-300,000: The number of children sold for sex in the U.S. each year

12-14: The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution

11-13: The average age at which boys and transgendered youth enter into prostitution

55%: The proportion of girls living on the streets in the U.S. engaged in formal prostitution

30%: The proportion of youth living in shelters who are sexually exploited

75%: The proportion of girls engaged in prostitution who are working for a pimp

One-fifth: The fraction of exploited children who are trafficked nationally

$150,000-$200,000: The amount a pimp can make each year, per child

76%: The proportion of transactions for sex with underage girls conducted via the Internet


Sex Trafficking Is Found in a Range of Venues
  • Hostess/Strip Clubs
  • Commercial Front Brothels (i.e. fake massage parlors)
  • Internet Ad Based Trafficking
  • Streets
  • Hotels and Motels**
  • Websites
  • Social Media
  • Homes
  • Schools
  • Streets
  • Private Parties
  • Escort Services
  • Pornographic Film Sets
  • Truck Stops

Labor Trafficking

Labor Trafficking is the criminal act of recruiting, harboring, transporting or obtaining a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It is involved in almost every industry supply chain including the movies we watch, the food we eat, clothes we buy, and electronics we love. 

The top labor trafficking industries in the U.S. are: domestic work (maids and nannies), traveling sales crews, restaurant and food service industry, agriculture, health and beauty services (nail salons, spas).¹

There are three basic types of labor trafficking: bonded labor, forced labor, and child labor.²

Bonded labor, or debt bondage, is the least known but most widely used method. Victims become “bonded laborers” when their work is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan in which its terms and conditions have not been defined, or in which the value of the victims’ services, as reasonably assessed, are not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. 

Forced labor is a situation in which victims are forced to work against their own will under the threat of violence or punishment, and their freedom is restricted and controlled.

Child labor is a form of work that is likely to be hazardous to the health and/or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development of children.  

The International Labor Organization estimates worldwide that there are 246 million exploited children between 5 and 17 years old involved in debt bondage, forced labor for armed conflict, prostitution, pornography, the illegal drug trade, the illegal arms trade, and other illicit activities around the world.² 

The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 136 goods from 74 countries made through labor trafficking.²


Labor Trafficking Is Found in a Range of Venues

  • Domestic Work (nannies, maids)
  • Traveling sales crews
  • Restaurant and Food Service
  • Agriculture
  • Health and Beauty Services (i.e. nail salons, spas)
  • Hotels, Motels
  • Sweat Shops
  • Construction
  • Janitorial Services