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H.E.A.T. Watch – Stop Human Exploitation and Trafficking

Alameda County H.E.A.T. Watch Tip Line:
Office of the District Attorney, Alameda County
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

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Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)

“The commercial sexual exploitation of children is the most hidden form of child abuse in North America today. It is the Nation’s least recognized epidemic.”

-Richard Estes, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Work Center for Youth Study.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is defined as criminal practices that demean, degrade and threaten the physical and psycho-social integrity of children.

There are three primary forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children: prostitution, pornography and trafficking for sexual purposes. Other forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children include child sex tourism, child marriages and forced marriages.

National Facts on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC):

  • According to UNICEF, every 2 minutes, a child is being groomed for sexual exploitation.
  • Every year, at least 100,000 children are prostituted in the US. (Polaris)
  • A 2001 University of Pennsylvania study found that between 244,000 and 325,000 American children and youth are “at risk” each year of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation (e.g., child pornography, juvenile prostitution, and trafficking in children for sexual purposes).
  • In the same report, it is estimated that 30% of shelter youth and 70% of street youth are victims of CSEC
  • Girls first become victims of prostitution between ages 12-14 while boys and transgendered youth average 11-13. (NPR)
  • One study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections estimates that 1-in-30 US children in (or 3.5% of all adolescents in the US) have exchanged sex for drugs or money; around two thirds of those who had done so were boys.
  • 95% of the sexual encounters a trafficked boy endures are with other males. (Polaris)
  • An exploiter can earn between $150,000 to $200,000 per year per exploited child. (NPR)

Local Facts on CSEC in Alameda County

  • Oakland, CA, is a thriving underage sex market, and is the epicenter of a trafficking triangle between San Francisco & Contra Costa counties.

  • 46% of all prosecuted human trafficking cases in California since 2011 came from the Alameda District Attorney's office.

  • Of 518 youth identified in Alameda County as at risk for or already involved in commercial sexual exploitation from January 1, 2011, to September 1, 2016, it was found that:

    • 86% had juvenile arrest history
    • 79% had a runaway history
    • 58% had drug use history
    • 40% were currently in custody or had been in custody of Social Services.
    • 26% had a family criminal history
    • 28% had mental health challenges.
  • 80% of reported human trafficking cases in California occurred in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego. These are three areas that experience the most human trafficking in the US.
  • From 2011 to 2016, Oakland Police Department:
    • Pursued 454 human trafficking cases for the OPD Vice Unit
    • Rescued 273 children through 258 operations, leading to 660 arrests
    • Found most cases involved multiple traffickers and child victims
    • Observed a nexus between exploitation & technology in virtually every case
    • Reported that all cases involved victim and/or an offender utilizing Internet tools, most notably to further the exploitation