April 19, 2011
Table of Contents
Human Trafficking in the United States Using the Internet
Child labor has been documented as far back as the 1600’s; however, child labor has likely been a part of history since the beginning of time. It was not until the rise of industrial factory labor, better known as the Industrial Revolution, that child labor began to be associated with the degrading conditions we think of today. It was these conditions that brought a wave of new legislation to combat child labor. The combination of the new legislation and great demand for labor created the new market for human trafficking (Nederveen Meerkerk & Schmidt, 2008). Over 200 years later, human trafficking is still a problem, and with the advancements of technology and the internet, human trafficking is a growing criminal enterprise. This paper will examine how the internet is becoming an easy and popular way for criminals to sexually traffic young girls. Problem
Human trafficking is a growing problem that is showing no sign of slowing and the internet is only adding a new element of complexity to the problem. It has been estimated that the number of victims of Domestic Minor Sexual Trafficking, which encompasses “prostitution, pornography, stripping, escort services, and other sexual services” (Kotrla, 2010, para. 5), is estimated to be at least 100,000 and a many as 300,000 each year (Cooper, 2010). In addition, it is also estimated that another 325,000 are at risk of becoming a victim of Domestic Minor Sexual Trafficking (Kotrla, 2010). A study conducted by Shared Hope International concluded that “children as young as nine years old were being sold for sex by parents or boyfriends” (Cooper, 2010, para. 4); other estimates put that age much lower at about three to four years old (Berman, 2010). Human trafficking is a crime that is “driven by greed and money” (Kotrla, 2010, para. 10) and it exists, both worldwide and domestically, because of the principles of supply and demand. If the demand for the sexual exploitation of children did not exist, the United States would not have as many as 300,000 children each year becoming victims of Domestic Minor Sexual Trafficking. In addition, human trafficking is a fast growing, lucrative criminal enterprise and conservative estimates put profits near $32 billion though possibly as high as $91 billion annually (Kotrla, 2010; Berman, 2010; Tran, 2007), which makes it only less profitable than the sale of illicit drugs (Berman, 2010). It may be difficult to understand how human trafficking could be flourishing in the United States. Research suggests that the United States has a “culture of tolerance” (Kotrla, 2010, para. 11) which takes subjects like pimping and prostitution and equates them with money, success, and glamor. You will find references to pimping and prostitution associated with all types of entertainment, including music, video and computer games, and television programming. Examples of this are the song “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” that won Best Original Song at the 78th Academy Awards or prostitution being labeled as the world’s oldest profession. These examples illustrate how validity is given to these lifestyles by simply making the idea of them acceptable. It is this mentality that illustrates how younger children can be lured by the perceived glamor and “coolness” of the industry. When the perceived acceptance of the industry is mixed with monetary needs or wants, it creates the right environment for potential victims. Cause
There are many factors that contribute to the sexual exploitation of children. One of these factors is the internet. The internet is used for both the marketing of children as well as a recruiting tool. Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have been popular ways to...