A recent report on the number of sexually exploited children in Florida gives insight into a horrific world that is often ignored by the media, and that rarely holds millionaires, politicians and even local officials accountable for their involvement.

A report from the Florida legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability concluded that the state’s Department of Children and Family (DCF) and its lead agencies “have not resolved issues related to serving commercially sexually exploited children.”

 The report found that in 2016, 356 verified commercially sexually exploited child victims were identified, as opposed to 264 identified in 2015. It noted that many of the victims who were identified earlier were, “both children in child welfare dependency and those living in the community with family—have since been re-victimized, involved with the criminal justice system, or only attended school intermittently.”


“During 2016, DCF’s Florida Abuse Hotline received 2,013 reports alleging the CSE of children, which is a 57% increase over the 2015 reports. Child protective investigators investigated 1,386 (or 69%) of those reports. Counties with the highest number of CSE reports include Miami-Dade (248), Broward (232), Orange (150), and Hillsborough (144). DCF hotline staff did not refer cases for investigation if the allegation did not rise to the level of reasonable (74%), there were no means to locate the victim (11%), or the alleged perpetrator was not the child’s caregiver (8%). Of the reports that were referred for investigation, most came from DJJ, the Department of Corrections, or criminal justice personnel (20%) and law enforcement (15%).”

In 2016, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received reports of 7,572 human trafficking cases, which was a substantial increase from 5,544 cases in 2015 and 5,042 cases in 2014. Florida ranked third on the list with 550 cases, behind Texas with 670 cases and California with 1,323 cases.

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Out of the 7,572 human trafficking cases reported in the United States in 2016, the majority or 5,551 were “sex trafficking” cases, and 2,387 of the reported victims were minors.

The report on child sex trafficking in Florida suggested that the increase in victims was due to the process DCF and the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) use to “select children to screen as well as the screening tool itself may limit accurate identification of CSE child victims.”

The report also noted that 62 percent of the children who were labeled as commercially sexually exported remained “in the community and are referred to voluntary, local services.” As a result, “no data is readily available on whether the children use these services.”

The Free Thought Project has provided extensive coverage of the sex trafficking epidemic in the U.S., especially in relation to minors who become victims after they are kidnapped from their homes and placed in foster care.

In April, two pastors who were foster care advocates were arrested for running a child sex ring in Ohio. The pastors, who had influence on their county’s Child Service’s Board of Trustees, were charged for “recruiting, enticing and transporting people the men knew were under 18 to engage in sex acts for pay.” The trafficking was ongoing for at least three years, and initially began with a 14-year-old girl.

In June, a lawsuit was filed in the case of a 5-year-old girl who was given to the leader of a child sex ring in Arizona. She was taken from her mother who was battling an addiction with substance abuse, and she was put in the custody of a pedophile who sexually abused her, tortured her, and ultimately left her fighting for her life.

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The recent report from Florida is another reminder that child sex trafficking is a horrific element of the human trafficking epidemic that has been ongoing in the United States. While government involvement has always been an element, it has yet to put a stop to the increasing number of children who are subjected to life-altering abuse on a daily basis.

Rachel Blevins is a Texas-based journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives. Follow Rachel on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • Jenna

    Of COURSE they’re not going to do anything about it. The vast majority of sex-trafficking victims are girls, who barely even register as human in our legal system! Furthermore, how DARE you suggest that a rich and powerful white man doesn’t have the right to occasionally “get him a little something fresh.”

    As TFTP has suggested on a number of occasions, one of most plausible reasons nobody wants to tackle the child sex “industry” is that it would snare an embarrassing number of “important and respectable” people.

    • Domina Elle

      Gonna have to disagree with the MOST are girls comment. Firstly, there isn’t enough EVIDENCE BASED data to argue that position. Narratives pushed by anti trafficking NGO’s (over 2000 of them) focus on girls but looking at actual cases, and if we refer to the little data which does exist such as the 2006 study ‘sexual exploitation of minors in NYC’ there’s a different picture. In that study they found over half were boys. They also found the vast majority didn’t have a pimp 90%. No one has accurate understanding of the real scope involved. Very little research is being done which is evidence based rather than rhetoric based. The village voice did an article

  • These poor kids will be negatively affected, for life!!!

  • John C Carleton

    Stop IT, Washington Dc is protecting it’s own!

  • Domina Elle

    Counting the calls to these profit driven non profit NGO’s is totally BS. They have to have high numbers to justify the federal funding they get. This has been happening for decades now. When a fellow activist contacted the Polaris project to report the abuse and trafficking of a disabled woman, the case was IGNORED. Another issue- people (minors and adults) who are not being trafficked by someone are being categorized as being trafficked. Minors are categorized as trafficked when found working in the sex trade simply by virtue of their age. Anyone under legal age working in the sex trade is automatically labeled as trafficked even if no one is forcing them and they are working of their own volition. This drives the numbers. Yes, sadly there are many minors who turn to trading sex for shelter and money in particular LGBT youth who are said to make up at least 70% of homeless youth. Why does this matter? NGO’s are using the trafficking topic to push a variety of false narratives. A study of minors in the sex trade in New York City found that over 90% were not working under a trafficker, over half were BOYS, and 70% had sought non existent services which may have prevented them from engaging in sex work. Instead of funneling MILLIONS into the pockets of NGO’s who merely provide a hotline (if that) and don’t provide any tangible services in many cases how about that money going to establish shelters and services for these minors? THAT is the point. We have also found police reports that state children were involved when in fact only adults are involved. This topic is being used in a variety of ways to fortify the surveillance state, drive funding into people’s pockets, provide platforms for opportunistic government officials and law enforcement agencies more than anything.

    What do these law enforcement agencies really think? Go research the way police handled the Celeste Guap case. A minor when police began to pass her around for sex. She just won a million dollar settlement.

  • Domina Elle

    The only study which exists that I know of- that sincerely attempted to understand the scope of minors in the sex trade was published in 2008:

    Most astonishing to the researchers was the demographic profile teased out by the study. Published by the U.S. Department of Justice in September 2008, Curtis and Dank’s findings thoroughly obliterated the long-held core assumptions about underage prostitution:

    • Nearly half of the kids—about
    45 percent—were boys.

    • Only 10 percent were involved with
    a “market facilitator”
    (e.g., a pimp).

    • About 45 percent got into the
    “business” through friends.

    • More than 90 percent were U.S.-born (56 percent were New York City natives).

    • On average, they started hooking
    at age 15.

    • Most serviced men—preferably white and wealthy.

    • Most deals were struck on the street.

    • Almost 70 percent of the kids said they’d sought assistance at a youth-service agency at least once.

    • Nearly all of the youths—95 percent—said they exchanged sex for money because it was the surest way to support themselves.

    In other words, the typical kid who is commercially exploited for sex in New York City is not a tween girl, has not been sold into sexual slavery, and is not held captive by a pimp.

    Nearly all the boys and girls involved in the city’s sex trade are going it alone.