100,000 to 300,000 Child Sex Trafficking Number is Incorrect

Various anti-human trafficking organizations and media reports have stated that 100,000 to 300,000 children fall victim to sex trafficking each year. For example, the President of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children stated the figure in an interview with USA Today in 2011.

The figure is incorrect. According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor, the figures originally was stated in a 2001 study published by the University of Pennsylvania called “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.” In the study, the figures refer to the number of at-risk children who could become victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

The authors of the study highlighted this point in their report:

The numbers presented in these exhibits do not, therefore, reflect the actual number of cases of the CSEC in the United States but, rather, what we estimate to be the number of children “at risk” of commercial sex- ual exploitation.

The sentence was underlined for emphasis in the original study.

Source:  Stephanie Hanes, “Human trafficking: a misunderstood global scourge,” Christian Science Monitor, September 9, 2012.

Study source:  Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan  Weiner, “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children In the U. S., Canada and Mexico,” Executive Summary, September 19, 2001, revised February 20, 2002, page 10.