Authors' Names

Maggie FalwellFollow

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Area of Focus

Social Sciences

Abstract

Thirteen, often seen as an unlucky number, is the average age of a girl who is forced into the domestic sex slavery market in the United States. Sex trafficking, which is a subset of human trafficking, is a national problem for the United States. With the growth of the Internet since the 1980s, more and more victims are duped by human traffickers online. Teenagers are the most vulnerable population on the internet because they tend to be more active online. They are the most likely to visit websites that allow human interaction such as social-networking, forums, chatrooms, etc. My innovation is a mobile app, which poses as a game but offers a portal to interact with a local anti-human trafficking advocate who will provide the trafficked individual with the appropriate information and prepare them for emancipation. To keep both parties safe, all messages are deleted by “swiping”, which instantly displays the game. Additionally, messages are deleted and the game display appears if the individual locks their phone.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is closely related to sex trafficking and is usually referred to as, “Practices by which a person, usually an adult, achieves sexual gratification, financial gain, or advancement through the abuse or exploitation of a child’s sexuality.” Domestic minor sex trafficking is when commercial sexual exploitation involves United States citizens victimized on U.S. territory (Palmiotto, 2015).

Empirical research on human trafficking, and specifically domestic minor sex trafficking, is virtually non-existent. In most cases, media coverage is the only source of information regarding exploitation methods employed through technology. Instead of relying on anecdotal events, most analysts agree that significant research is necessary to judge the extent to which human trafficking is facilitated and effectively combated by the Internet and other social media technologies.

Media coverage suggests that child trafficking criminals and those facilitating juvenile prostitution are making use of online resources. The Internet provides a way to advertise commercial sex acts to a wide audience, and also provides a pseudo-anonymous environment for criminals to conceal or misrepresent their identities. For criminals, technology is an efficient means of reaching obscure target audiences, including: immigrant groups that may be the focus of international traffickers, pedophiles looking for access to very young children, people with extreme sexual tastes (e.g., sadism, bondage, bestiality, and those interested in child pornography. The offenders use online services to advertise their illicit businesses, namely exploiting young women and girls for commercial sex by using such online services as Craigslist.com, FindHotEscorts.com, and Backpage.com.

Social activity has migrated to the Internet and it should come as no surprise that criminals have migrated as well. This means that efforts to prevent and prosecute these crimes need to migrate to the Internet and other technologies. However, these efforts are still in their early phases, and more research and practice is warranted to develop better methods to identify and investigate domestic minor sex trafficking in all its forms.

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Apr 14th, 11:00 AM Apr 14th, 12:00 PM

Fighting Fire with Fire: Utilizing Social Media to Combat Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking

Thirteen, often seen as an unlucky number, is the average age of a girl who is forced into the domestic sex slavery market in the United States. Sex trafficking, which is a subset of human trafficking, is a national problem for the United States. With the growth of the Internet since the 1980s, more and more victims are duped by human traffickers online. Teenagers are the most vulnerable population on the internet because they tend to be more active online. They are the most likely to visit websites that allow human interaction such as social-networking, forums, chatrooms, etc. My innovation is a mobile app, which poses as a game but offers a portal to interact with a local anti-human trafficking advocate who will provide the trafficked individual with the appropriate information and prepare them for emancipation. To keep both parties safe, all messages are deleted by “swiping”, which instantly displays the game. Additionally, messages are deleted and the game display appears if the individual locks their phone.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is closely related to sex trafficking and is usually referred to as, “Practices by which a person, usually an adult, achieves sexual gratification, financial gain, or advancement through the abuse or exploitation of a child’s sexuality.” Domestic minor sex trafficking is when commercial sexual exploitation involves United States citizens victimized on U.S. territory (Palmiotto, 2015).

Empirical research on human trafficking, and specifically domestic minor sex trafficking, is virtually non-existent. In most cases, media coverage is the only source of information regarding exploitation methods employed through technology. Instead of relying on anecdotal events, most analysts agree that significant research is necessary to judge the extent to which human trafficking is facilitated and effectively combated by the Internet and other social media technologies.

Media coverage suggests that child trafficking criminals and those facilitating juvenile prostitution are making use of online resources. The Internet provides a way to advertise commercial sex acts to a wide audience, and also provides a pseudo-anonymous environment for criminals to conceal or misrepresent their identities. For criminals, technology is an efficient means of reaching obscure target audiences, including: immigrant groups that may be the focus of international traffickers, pedophiles looking for access to very young children, people with extreme sexual tastes (e.g., sadism, bondage, bestiality, and those interested in child pornography. The offenders use online services to advertise their illicit businesses, namely exploiting young women and girls for commercial sex by using such online services as Craigslist.com, FindHotEscorts.com, and Backpage.com.

Social activity has migrated to the Internet and it should come as no surprise that criminals have migrated as well. This means that efforts to prevent and prosecute these crimes need to migrate to the Internet and other technologies. However, these efforts are still in their early phases, and more research and practice is warranted to develop better methods to identify and investigate domestic minor sex trafficking in all its forms.