But the truth is children—primarily preteen and adolescent girls ages 12 to 14, but all youth are at risk—are more susceptible and vulnerable to the predatory tactics of traffickers and pimps, according to Shared Hope International, a faith-based organization whose mission is to “prevent the conditions that foster sex trafficking, restore victims of sex slavery, and bring justice to vulnerable women and children.”
The nonprofit group’s website states that at least 100,000 American children are exploited through pornography or prostitution each year, and traffickers target the places where youths hang out: schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters and group homes. Many pimps employ a “lover boy” approach to recruit girls from middle and high schools, the website notes.
“A lot of the traffickers prey on the insecurities of young teens who are figuring out who they are,” says Christine Raino, Director of Public Policy for Shared Hope International in Arlington, Va. “They compliment them, and they seem nice. [Girls] think this is a boyfriend, but they’re being exploited.”
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