The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is any type of sexual activity involving a child in exchange for something of value, or promise thereof, to the child or another person or persons. The child is treated as a commercial and sexual object. CSEC is a form of violence against children.
Examples of exploitation include pornography, stripping, and street prostitution. While victims of CSEC are coerced into prostitution, they are not prostitutes. Referring to or identifying a CSEC victim as a “child prostitute” is politically incorrect, grossly inaccurate, and morally reprehensible. “Child prostitute” is a derogatory slur that wrongly suggests the young person has agency in the situation, which as a sexually exploited minor they do not.
Who are these youth?
At MISSSEY, we are seeing the following trends:
- 82% have a history of running away
- Over 65% of our clients are or have been in foster care
- 73% are currently or were previously involved in the juvenile justice system
- 78% are African American
- Increase in LGBTQ clients, who face high levels of homelessness due to homophobia and transphobia
- Increase in youth with developmental disabilities as well as mental health and substance abuse issues
- Younger and younger youth being served
Who are the exploiters?
Pimps and johns (purchasers/buyers) are exploiters. Pimps recruit and profit off of the youth they sexually exploit, and johns pay to sexually exploit the youth.
Purchasers range across all demographics (age, race, socioeconomic status, etc.) though they are usually male.
“When people who have [been exploited] call it repeated rape, they are not exaggerating…they are being legally precise. Rape is sexual intercourse against the will of the victim, carried out by threat or force. In [exploitation], the john performs the sex act with an unwilling victim but subcontracts the intimidation and violence to another man, the pimp.” – Joe Parker, RN (How Prostitution Works)