Sex Trafficking: Where, Why and What Can We Do About It?

by bstre3 on April 14, 2014 - 10:39pm

There are certain topics that most people don’t enjoy talking about, or even thinking about for that matter. One of these subjects pertains to the issue of sex trafficking, especially sex trafficking of minors. In her article “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in the United States,” Kimberly Kotrla covers the meaning and frequency of sex trafficking within our very own country’s borders. She emphasizes that although many people may think that sex trafficking primarily affects other foreign countries, in reality citizens of the United States actually are more susceptible to sex trafficking within our own borders compared to people of international lands. Kotrla (2010. p.181) also highlights that in the United States, minors are much more vulnerable and are more likely to be entered into the sex trafficking industry. She collected her data from various recognized organizations such as Shared Hope International and the US Department of Justice that determine statistics and find out information on DMST in the US. Kotrla explains that DMST includes any type of sexual services ranging from prostitution, pornography, stripping to escort services (p.182). She also explains that the reason for such high levels of DMST is because of the supply and demand effect. As sad and unfortunate as it is, there is a “need” by a consumer of this situation who is willing to pay for sex even though it is not morally or ethically justified. There is also the supplier, who is a part of a group that is willing to exploit young men and women and make a profit from their sexual acts (p.182). Another incredibly unfortunate but realistic factor that contributes to the existence of DMST in the United States is the tolerance within our country. Assuredly I don’t mean that people in our country would justify and defend sex trafficking; however, Kotrla makes a valid point that culture has the potential to promote things even if they are wrong. For example, morality and value of sex has diminished because of the way songs, social media, clothing and television has demoralized it’s meaning. This makes it much easier to convince a young adolescent to partake in unjustifiable acts by deceiving them and making them think their futures will be filled with glamour (p.183). Also most victims of sex trafficking are those who have been thrown out of their homes or those who have chosen to leave home before the age of 18. These people often become desperate and dependent on “pimps” or on others who promise to care for them. Although sometimes there is an initial agreement to engage in certain illegal activities, people exploited in sex trafficking are still victims and it is important to emphasize this fact and to provide help and outreach for survivors.

The need for outreach is Kotrla’s key intention for writing this article because she believes in the importance of understanding and sympathizing with the victims of this inhumane crime. She also stresses the prevalence and reality of minor sex trafficking in the United States. It is a topic that everyone knows happens behind closed doors, yet it is not emphasized and brought to the public’s attention enough. Kotrla emphasizes the importance of support for victims who have survived and escaped the sex trafficking industry. She strongly believes that social workers that see to these victims should have knowledge and experience in these subject areas in order to aid in the healing processes for such victims because almost every victim suffers from PTSD, anxiety, depression, addiction, and fear (p.185). There is no doubt that any victim of sex trafficking would experience these after effects, especially because most victims are brought into the industry at such a young age: the most common ages being between 11 and 14, and some victims documented as being a sex trafficking victim at the frightening age of 5 (p.182). It’s truly repulsive that a person so young is brought into such terrible situations, and unfortunately no victim of sex trafficking is ever exactly the same as before. As awful as it seems, there are people who view victims of sex trafficking as delinquents and rebels because they took part in a corrupt industry. This perception needs to be eliminated completely in my opinion because if a victim of such a traumatic situation such as this continually is persecuted and blamed, he or she will never even grasp the chance to heal. I can empathize with the trauma of these victims and how important it is to receive unconditional hope and perseverance from others trying to provide support. It is crucial for victims to have a safe place to live after they have escaped from sex trafficking, especially if they ran away from home in the first place to insure that they do not succumb to or be vulnerable to rejoining the industry. Social workers should aid in finding the best residencies for victims and continue to give hope and aid to victims until they are physically and emotionally stable (p.185). Also, I wholeheartedly believe it is essential to educate people of all ages about the realities of sex trafficking in our country because the more people that know of it’s immoral tendencies, the more likely it will decrease. 


Kotrla, Kimberly. (2010). Domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States. Social Work, 55, 181-187.

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