In 2014, buying a child for sex online can be just as easy as selling your old couch or posting an updated resume.
Astonishing statistics dug up by Thorn, an agency that studies technology's role in sex trafficking, found that sites like Craigslist are often used as tools for conducting business within the industry. Incredibly, 70 percent of child sex trafficking survivors surveyed by Thorn were at some point sold online.
"People are posted and sold online multiple times a day," Asia, a survivor of sex trafficking, told Thorn. "As far as the ad that was posted up [for me]… just [like] you can go find a car, there was a picture, and a description, and a price."
At least 105,000 children in the U.S. are being sexually exploited, according to the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the expanding underground industry has no intention of slowing down. The FBI considers sex trafficking the fastest-growing organized crime, and online channels allowing for the exploitation are only making it easier for predators to do business. NPR reported in March that the Justice Department believes child sex trafficking could generate a staggering $32 billion a year.
Many times, pimps work as expert manipulators to start young people in the business, promising a relationship and wealth. Tina Frundt, who founded Courtney's House in 2008 to protect children from sex trafficking, wrote on Women's Funding Network about her experience with a coercive man who played a role in her abuse.
To Frundt, abusers are dangerous because of their misleadingly supportive nature.
"This is the same man that took me out to eat," Frundt wrote on the website. "[He] listened to me when I wanted to complain about my parents, gave me words of advice."
If you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center by phone at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733).