Sex trafficking occurs when someone uses force, fraud, or coercion, to cause a commercial sex act with an adult, or causes a minor to commit a commercial sex act. A commercial sex act includes prostitution, pornography, and sexual performance done in exchange for any item of value such as money, drugs, shelter, food, or clothing.
On any given day, there are around 300 people for sale in Iowa for the use of sexual exploitation. In addition, on any given month there are, on average, 300 run-away children in Iowa.
Many sexually exploited youth come from dysfunctional homes with fractured familial structures where drug abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and child endangerment are all too common.
- Almost all trafficked children have a history of run-away (83%)
- A significant number have substance abuse issues (45%).
- A clear majority have trouble staying in school (63%).
- Most are actively, or have been, on probation (64%).
According to national data:
- 71% of girls who have been identified as victims of sex trafficking, or are at-risk for becoming victims, are age 18 or younger.
- These same girls will self-report that the average age of entry into the “life” is between 12-14 years of age.
The age discrepancy between the two statistics of when victims are identified and when they first became victimized, supports the premise that minors are being sexual exploited for a significant period of time before they are ever identified by law enforcement.
*This information is courtesy of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.