Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version



Published in Gender Issues (2016) 33:53-68
DOI 10.1007/s12147-015-9146-1


Copyright 2015 Springer Science+Business Media. Used by permission.


Federal agencies report the high level of sex trafficking of minors in the United States. This trafficking often occurs on-line with the Internet. Pimps commonly advertise children for sexual exploitation online, and they search social networking sites for young victims. Thus, the high rate of trafficking minors and the increased use of technology have led to a need to better understand purchasing young girls for sex on-line. This qualitative study focused on learning from NGO representatives, law enforcement officials, and public officials their experiences about how men buy girls on-line for sex, and the words that the men use in the transactions. Moreover, it explored beliefs about human trafficking, the anti-trafficking practices, the criminal treatment of young victims, the safe places for girls to stay, and the sex trafficking programs available for these young women. To learn about these issues, we conducted thirty-eight interviewees with participants in four locations in the United Sates. Six different themes emerged: (1) familiarity of the interviewees with sex trafficking and its research: (2) law enforcement anti-trafficking practices, (3) the buying side of sex trafficking, (4) the criminal treatment of victims, (5) lack of safe places for girls to stay, and (6) the prevention, intervention, and assessment of sex trafficking programs. These results have important implications for human trafficking researchers, policymakers, law enforcement officials, and for those who provide services for the young girls.