Technology, including social media, classified websites, and other means, are continually changing and playing an increased role in grooming and controlling victims of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST). Predators are luring children through online communications via their phones, tablets and even through video games. Because of this many of our children end up being sold for sex.
A recent study on DMST (Thorn) indicates that the average age of entry into commercial exploitation is roughly 12 to 14 years of age. While the most frequently reported age of entry into commercial sexual exploitation is 15, one in six participants in this study reported being trafficked before the age of 12.
According to the Polaris project, while recruitment from strip clubs, foster homes and schools was down in 2020, recruitment online increased 22%.
For these reasons, this year’s billboard campaign is focusing on Internet Safety. As you can see from the picture this is a warning to teens and parents of the dangers of talking online with people they do not know. In addition to our billboards we have a link on our website devoted to Internet safety for teens and for parents.
Because people are not always aware of how dangerous online environments can be or how to keep themselves safe, our hope is that these boards will be a reminder of how easily predators and traffickers can gain access to victims.