Guest / Limited Access /

For 72 hours last fall, FBI agents and local police targeted truck stops, casinos, night clubs, and adult entertainment spots in 36 American cities to rescue teenagers being trafficked for sex.

During the October raids, law enforcement rescued 52 minors (children under age 18) trafficked into either prostitution or adult entertainment. Nearly 700 people, including 60 pimps, were charged. Since June 2003, the task force has recovered 886 minors from the sex industry. The raids have resulted in 510 convictions and $3.1 million in property seizures.

Despite these victories, new research indicates that the sex-trafficking problem in the United States is more widespread and more severe than previously thought.

Shared Hope International, a Christian anti-trafficking nonprofit group founded by former Congresswoman Linda Smith in 1998, received a federal grant to survey domestic sex trafficking of minors. The survey found that many sex-trafficking victims were being misidentified and wrongly prosecuted as criminals. In some cases, the survey found, children as young as 9 years old were being sold for sex by parents or boyfriends in exchange for illicit drugs. Organized crime networks are now using sex trafficking because the risk of prosecution is so low. The survey determined that a high percentage of teens rescued from trafficking return to the system due to the strong bonds they form with their pimps.

"Most Americans do not realize that child trafficking is a major problem on Main Street USA," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, at a February congressional hearing. "These kids are victims. This is 21st-century slavery."

Researchers estimate that between 100,000 and 300,000 American ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Idaho's Impact
Haiti scandal overshadows bigger threat to evangelical adoption efforts.
Recommended
Getting to the Root of Female Masturbation
And the surprising role the church can play in helping women curb addiction to it.
TrendingWhy Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls
Why Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls
It's one the great mysteries of ministry. Why do pastors have such a bad reputation for answering or returning phone calls? Here are 9 reasons.
Editor's PickThe Good (and Bad) News About Christian Higher Education
The Good (and Bad) News About Christian Higher Education
‘Christian colleges are as strong as they’ve been since the 1920s,’ says historian William Ringenberg. But there are challenges on the horizon.
Christianity Today
Sexual Slavery on Main Street
hide thisMay May

In the Magazine

May 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.