Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)


Children are often enticed into sexual exploitation with the promise of something of value to themselves or another person. Traffickers offer love, safety, food, shelter, clothing, money and other incentives. Shockingly, across the nation, the average age of entry for victims of exploitation of this type is 12-14 years old. In San Diego County, the average age of entry is 16 years old.

Examples of CSEC include:

  • Street Walking
  • Pornography
  • Stripping
  • Escort Agencies
  • Phone Sex Lines
  • Video Chats
  • Private Parties
  • Internet-based Exploitation
  • Erotic/Nude Massage
  • Gang-based Prostitution
  • Interfamilial Trafficking

San Diego is one of the country’s hotspots for trafficking of adults and children – the FBI has ranked San Diego as one of the 13 worst regions in the United States with up to 8,000 victims per year. An astonishing number of hidden victims are boys and LGBTQ+ youth under age 18.

  • As high as 50% of exploited children in the U.S. identify as boys
  • The average age of entry into sexual exploitation for boys in the U.S. is between 11-13 years old

The rejection of LGBTQ+ youth by parents or peers leads to increased homelessness, and homeless youth are a natural target for traffickers. Up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. Of these:

  • 46% ran away because of family rejection
  • They are 7.4x more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than their heterosexual peers
  • They are 3-7x more likely to engage in survival sex to meet basic needs

Most victims are not kidnapped during broad daylight and locked away. Instead, human trafficking is a crime perpetuated against some of the most vulnerable members of our society through deception, psychological coercion and force. Below are some of the red flags that a child is being trafficked:

  • Running away from home
  • Truancy, chronic absenteeism
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Change of friends or alienation from longtime friends
  • Rumors among peers regarding sex activities
  • Sudden change in behavior, attitude or attire
  • Anger, aggression, being suicidal or fearful
  • Claims of a new and mysterious/secretive partner
  • Drug use
  • Weight loss
  • Bruises or other physical trauma
  • New cell phone or multiple cell phones
  • Use of terminology related to sex work
  • Tattoos
  • Secrecy with social media and phone

If you or someone you know needs help, please call our Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 344-6000. Caring, trained people are available 24 hours a day.

For more information specifically addressed to parents, educators and youth, download these useful resources:

Parent Brochure

Educator Brochure

Youth Brochure

Local Services for Youth and Families

San Diego Youth Services

North County Lifeline Project LIFE

Resources for Youth

Be Safer Online! (

I am Jasmine Strong Youth Tips

San Diego County of Education Health and Well-Being Support

Resources for Parents and Caregivers

Parent Resources (

I am Jasmine Strong Parent/Caregiver Tips

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Family Support

CSEC Survivor Advisory Board Training Video