Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Research

Not all research is created equal. Learning to be a consumer of research is both an art and a science. The reader is like the buyer in the caveat emptor – buyer beware!  Read carefully all the articles claiming statistical analysis, use multiple sources to confirm, affirm, or deny the legitimacy of any report and research. Try to use peer reviewed articles and government documents to confirm or deny the findings.

Above all, do not trust the media to do that for you! The news media does not distinguish accurate source materials nor do they always fact check. The media uses terms that create hype and do not always get the differences right between crimes that they are reporting on. For example many cases may look like trafficking of humans but may in fact be smuggling (crime against sovereign border of the country) or extortion of smuggled victims in a stash house situation, or crimes of kidnapping and sexual assault that do not involve a commercial element.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) [also called Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)] and child abductions are NOT the same. Unless the child is exploited commercially for sexual purposes it would be considered a different criminal offense.

For example: When the rescue of three women in Ohio was reported there was a great deal of speculation they were being held and sold for sexual purposes from Castro’s home. This case helps to articulate the differences. The exploitation of the three women in Cleveland did not have an element of commercial sales. (Victims: Michelle Knight; Amanda Berry; Gina DeJesus. Perpetrator: Ariel Castro.)  See compilation of information on the case here. These women were kidnapped and exploited sexually but not sold for those purposes.

There has been a considerable amount of “factoids” of information thrown around year after year and it becomes problematic to the consumer and those trying to educate on the topics.

Here is an example of a study done by a reputable research group. The firm was hired by the Dallas Women’s Foundation and they  were highly criticized and maligned by who was in fact the subject of the study.

Adolescent Girls in the Texas Sex Trade

Read the whole report here:

Download it here: Shapiro Report CSEC


“Much like domestic violence 30 years ago, commercial sexual exploitation of girls is often misunderstood and overlooked, yet is a harsh reality for too many young girls. Through this gift and our research, we intend to lift up this issue so it can be better understood, addressed and prevented by the community.”
Becky Sykes, CEO Dallas Women’s Foundation

The FBI named Dallas and Houston as two of the 14 cities in the nation with the highest incidence of commercial sexual exploited children.

In Texas, 740 girls under the age of 18 were documented being marketed for sex in November 2010.
“Adolescent Girls in the Texas Sex Trade,” a state-wide study of the commercial sexual exploitation of girls, counts adolescent girls being actively marketed on the Internet and through escort services using a probability-based, empirical approach. These advertisements are two of the main sources through which johns find girls. There are no systematic and replicable methodologies to count street-level trafficking activity.

The tracking study “Adolescent Girls in the Texas Sex Trade” was conducted by The Schapiro Group over a 30-day period in November 2010 and will be repeated again this year in February 2011 (including Super Bowl weekend) and August 2011. Research using the same methodology has also been conducted in Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota and New York.


740 girls under the age of 18 were documented being marketed for sex during a 30-day period.

712 of these girls were being marketed through Internet classified web sites; 28 were being marketed through escort services.

Sex trafficking activity of girls in Texas was second to New York (1,089) in the same period, followed by Minnesota (199) and Michigan (148).

The North Texas area accounts for 35 percent of this statewide crime, while this region represents only 26 percent of the state’s population.


There are more girls (740) being trafficked for sex in Texas during one month than…
…there are women killed in domestic violence incidents with former or current husbands, intimate partners or boyfriends in Texas over an entire year (111)

…there are females of all ages who died from complications due to AIDS in one year in Texas (255)

…there are teen girls who died by suicide, homicide and accidents in the state in one year (461)

The 256 trafficked girls trafficked in North Texas during this one-month period is:

More than six times the number of all North Texans under 21 killed in DUI-related incidents in an entire year (39)

More than double the number of girls ages five to 25 who die by suicide, homicide and accidents in an entire year in the North Texas region (112)

Nearly identical to the number of Texans under age 20 diagnosed with HIV in a year (259)

The comparison of data sets helps to frame their findings in respect to other issues of concern for the same target population. Additionally, they tried to draw comparisons geographically to further illustrate the immensity of their findings.

It is NOT easy to get the facts right on a crime that is so hidden and clandestine. It is possible to find apples in one basket (report) being compared to a basket of oranges (report) as if they are the same or factually accurate. The National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2) has been quoted and mis-quoted on numerous reports. Check out the comprehensive report and realize a sound bite or a snapshot of this work can get very difficult to interpret accurately.

Bottom-line – We have a problem with children being tricked, trapped, and traded in commercial sexual exploitation. We must address this issue socially as a public health issue as well as a criminally through law enforcement. They are intertwined and it is going to take everyone doing their part to change the tide of victimization.