FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is DMST?
DMST means Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and is a form of Human Trafficking. Human Trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Traffickers look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings. (www.dhs.gov)
Are the kids mostly kidnapped?
No, but sexually exploited children are more susceptible and often groomed prior to their exploitation by someone they depend on or are sexually exploited due to their status as a homeless or runaway youth. Research shows that children in Child Protective Services/Department of Family and Children Services custody are at higher risk.
So, is it the child protective service agency’s/department of family and children services fault?
No, the children are often in custody due to childhood sexual or physical abuse and or neglect by a family member or a trusted adult. These traumatic experiences make the child vulnerable to the manipulation of traffickers. However, across the United States our Child Protective Services and communities are facing a foster care crisis with more children in protective custody and a shortage of foster care homes
- Average age nationally is 11, average age in Georgia is 14
- Over 90% of sexually exploited children experienced childhood sexual abuse
- 89% of sexually exploited children in Georgia had foster care involvement
Does it really happen here?
Yes. It has happened and is happening in Muscogee County
But still, it couldn’t happen to my kid’s right?
ALL children with unmonitored access to the internet, smart phones, and social media are vulnerable! This also reflects the rise in a traffickers access to more vulnerable children. (ex: A 12 year old girl is given a smart phone and within a month she downloads an Instagram app on her phone. Within a month she is “following” 567 people and has over 1500 followers…These followers who she and her parents have never met, are now able to communicate with her and usually without the knowledge of her parents.)
Is it still illegal if the child willingly engages in sex for profit?
Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 who is induced to perform commercial sex acts is a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether he or she is forced or coerced.
What are the signs?
- Significantly older boyfriend
- Change in mood, behavior or appearance
- Sexually explicit media presence or profile
- Material possessions they or their families cannot afford or account for such as cell phones, clothes hair, nails and purses
- Possession of a hotel key card
- Multiple or chronic Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Chronic runaway or homeless
- Tattoo or branding
- Family history in the commercial sex industry or adult entertainment