FACT #9 – Boys and Men are victims of Sexual Exploitation/Trafficking

According to a recent publication from End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA), “the scope of [Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Boys (CSEB)] is vastly under reported, that commercial sexual exploitation poses very significant risks to their health and their lives; that gay and transgenders are over-represented as a proportion of the sexually exploited boys; and that there is a shortage of services for these boys.” [1]

2008 research from John Jay College of Criminal Justice estimated that as many as half of all the victims of child sexual exploitation may be male/male identifying. [2]

Indicators for Commercial Sexual Abuse of Boys/Adolescent Males/Trans Youth

Identification of male victimization based on commercial sexual exploitation is often overlooked because it is not clearly defined. Due to the stigma and effects of trauma, reliance on definitions of adverse childhood experiences and behavioral indicators can help increase our awareness of risk factors for CSEB.

The following is a partial list of adverse childhood experiences that can contribute to sexual exploitation of boys:

  • history of family domestic violence
  • family history of addictions
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • community violence
  • loss of loved ones
  • depression
  • suicidality within family
  • truancy
  • multiple foster care placements

Additionally, victimized males often demonstrate behaviors that may indicate victimization including: anxiety, PTSD, depression, suicide attempts, runaway behavior, homelessness, oppositional behavior disorder, self-mutilation, and eating disorders.

When these adverse childhood experiences and behavioral indicators are identified, it is suggested that further assessments be administered to determine sexual victimization.
Commercial Sexual Exploitation and LGBTQ Youth.

It is reported that 40% of LGBTQ who are runaway/homeless are victimized by commercial sexual exploitation at some point in their lives. [2] The previous adverse childhood experiences listed along with behavioral indicators remain the same for this population. It should be noted that because of the impact of homophobia and gender bias within a culture, this particular group of youth may represent an increased risk group for sexual exploitation. It is important to be aware of the increased risk factor for this group when assessments are being administered and placement options being considered.


[1] Friedman, S., & Willis, B. (2013). And boys too: An ECPAT-USA discussion paper about the lack of recognition of the commercial sexual exploitation of boys in the United States. Brooklyn, NY: End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA).

[2] Curtis, R., Terry, K., Dank, M., Dombrowski, K., & Khan, B. 2008. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City, Volume One, The CSEC Population in New York City: Size, Characteristics, and Needs. New York: Center for Court Innovation and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.