What is the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)?  

CSEC is a form of Child Trafficking and refers to any person under the age of 18 who engages, agrees to engage in or offers to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for anything of value including money, food, shelter, clothing, education or care.

Examples of CSEC include:

  • Child sex trafficking
  • Street prostitution
  • Gang based trafficking
  • Escort services/private parties
  • Internet based exploitation
  • Commercial production of child pornography
  • The online transmission of live video of a child engaged in sexual activity in exchange for anything of value

Did you know?

The average age
of entry into the sex
is 12-14 years old


At least 100,000
children are used in
prostitution every year
in the United States


1 in 3 teens will be
approached by an
exploiter within 2-3 days of
becoming homeless

Risk Factors Include:

  • A history of child abuse (especially sexual abuse), neglect or maltreatment
  • History of being system-involved ( e.g., juvenile justice, criminal justice, child protective services)
  • Homelessness or a youth that is frequently missing from care (runaway)
  • A youth that identifies as LGBTQ
  • Children with disabilities
  • Refugees, immigrants and non-English speaking children
  • Females

Red Flags

It may not be readily apparent that a youth has been sexually exploited. Children rarely disclose this type of abuse as they often do not see themselves as victims. Many view their trafficker/pimp as a boyfriend or girlfriend and the process of breaking that trauma bond takes both time and resources.

Common features associated with youth who have been commercially sexually exploited:

  • Has excessive amounts of money or goods (i.e. clothing, accessories) without an obvious means or a plausible explanation
  • Has multiple cell phones
  • Has tattoos and/or branding which the youth is reluctant to explain
  • Photos of the youth have been placed online for advertising
  • Shows signs of sexual abuse
  • Has STIs or a history of multiple pregnancies or miscarriages
  • Shows signs of neglect, malnourishment or poor hygiene
  • Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma
  • Exhibits withdrawn behavior, depression, fear or hypervigilance
  • Indication of drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Appears to be afraid or under the control of another person
  • Unexplained absences from school
  • Chronically runs away from care
  • Associates with other youth who have been identified as victims of CSEC
  • Has a boyfriend or girlfriend that is noticeably older
  • Hangs out around strip clubs, hotels, other known recruiting grounds

What do you do if you suspect a child is being commercially sexually exploited?

If you suspect a child is a victim of commercial sexual exploitation report it immediately by calling the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and local law enforcement. If the child is in immediate danger call 911. The CAC serves as an information clearing house to the public by answering questions and providing guidance on how to navigate the various systems.

Massachusetts Department of Children & Families

Fall River | 508-235-9800

New Bedford | 508-910-1000

Taunton/Attleboro | 508-821-7000

After Hours Hotline | 800-792-5200

CSEC Prevention

The CAC is committed to the prevention of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. The identification of CSEC victims is crucial to ensure that these victims receive the appropriate supports and services. The CAC offers a CSEC 101 training to assist the community and professionals in effectively identifying and responding to suspicions of CSEC. This training offers information on defining CSEC, the nature and frequency of CSEC, identifying risk factors for victimization, recognizing indicators that a youth is a CSEC victim and aims to equip adults with an understanding of mandated reporting laws and their role as a first responder to suspected CSEC. For more information on this training please contact Jessica Kurinskas at 508-674-6111 or jkurinskas@cacofbc.org