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Know the signs: Sexual Exploitation

Child victims of sex trafficking may look like the children you help every day

  • Children rarely disclose they have been sexually exploited.
  • Children often do not realize they are victims of trafficking.
  • Many view their exploiter as a boyfriend/girlfriend, and the process of breaking that bond is time- and resource-intensive.
  • Children who are trafficked may still be under the control of a trafficker, even after they return to foster care or a family home or are rescued.
  • Children who are trafficked may have a history of repeated sexual exploitation or running away.
  • Trafficked children often suffer from depression, hostility, stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fear of authority, as well as fear of those who victimize them.
  • Outward symptoms of depression, anxiety, or hostility may present as difficult behavior or resistance to assistance.
  • Other physical symptoms such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and drug addiction may mask the fact that they have been exploited.

What should you do if you suspect?

As with other cases of disclosed or suspected child abuse…

  • Believe the Child
  • Report
  • Empower
  • Follow up
  • Support

More Information on Sexual Exploitation of Children

More information on the topic of sexual exploitation of children can be found in the online training course Alaska Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (Human Trafficking) available at this site: https:\\learn.dhss.alaska.gov. Instructions on how to create an account can be accessed on the front page of the site or from this link.

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