Sex Trafficking

Resources for healthcare and social service providers

Sex trafficking is a form of sexual abuse, and can lead to serious physical and mental health problems for youth. Many who have been trafficked report severe physical and psychological violence as well as untreated medical conditions and significant reproductive health and substance abuse problems. It is important for healthcare providers to be able to recognize the risk factors and to know how to care for youth who have been victimized by traffickers.

In Wisconsin, sex trafficking of a minor is when anything of value is given to, promised or received by any person in exchange for a sexual act or performance by a child less than 18 year of age. This includes:

  • A pimp (trafficker) selling a youth for sexual acts in exchange for money, drugs, food, or anything of value
  • Someone exchanging anything of value for a sexual act and the youth receives the payment or item of value (in that case the one who receives the sexual act is the trafficker)
  • When the sexual act involves pornography, dancing or stripping, even if there is no sexual contact
  • When anyone attempts to engage, transport or recruit a youth for sexual act in exchange for something of value, even if the sexual act didn’t ultimately occur

When the youth is less than 18 years of age, proof of force, fraud or coercion of the youth are not required to consider a situation sex trafficking.

Trainings, protocols and tools to educate healthcare and social service providers on the medical needs of sexually exploited youth can be found on this website*, including:

* Many of these resources were created by Dr. Angela Rabbitt, Child Abuse Pediatrician with MCW Child Advocacy and Protection; Dr. Wendi Ehrman, Adolescent Medicine Specialist with MCW; Stephen Gilbertson, a Psychologist and Clinical Director of Wraparound Milwaukee; and Claudine O’Leary, a Youth Advocate with Rethink Resources, as part of the POHSEY Project (Proactive Outreach for the Health of Sexually Exploited Youth), funded by the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program.
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