Debunking Statistics: Number of Children who are Sexually Exploited

Here we look at a couple other statistics that have been debunked by Fact Checker.

The first is: “In the U.S., some 300,000 children are at risk each year for commercial sexual exploitation.” and “There are upwards, according to the Justice Department, of 300,000, mostly young girls, at risk for this.”

This number comes from a report by Richard J. Estes and Neil Weiner, written in 2001.  However, the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire came out with another report stating “PLEASE DO NOT CITE THESE NUMBERS”, referring to Estes and Weiner’s estimate. Estes and Weiner’s report contained many problems and was outdated. When it comes to statistics one has to be cautious as, the Justice Department’s sponsored report stated, “No reliable national estimate exists of the incidence or prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States”.

Fact Checker: 300,000 Children Claim

The next statistic states: “At least 100,000 children in the U.S. are commercially sexually exploited.”

This statistic was stated by Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2010. Allen used the 300,000 figure that we just debunked and estimated that 150,000 of these were runaways, thrown-away or homeless children, all between the ages of 10 and 17. He said that he rounded down to 100,000 to make it sound like a more conservative number. Allen stated that he wanted to come up with a specific figure because “with any social issue, if you can’t quantify it, it must not be a problem in the view of policymakers”. Whether that statement hold truth or not, it still does not mean statistics should be fabricated.

Fact Checker Article: 100,000 Children

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More Debunked Statistics: $9.5 billion Industry?

Here are two other debunked statistics that are circulating around:

“It’s estimated that child sex trafficking in the United States alone is a $9.8 billion industry.”

“This (human trafficking) is domestically a $9.5 billion business.”

The first was posted on the internet by an organization. One problem with this statistic was that the staff was supposed to write human trafficking, not sex trafficking. But even despite that mistake, the report that was sited for this figure does not even mention a $9.8 billion industry of human trafficking in the United States. What it does mention is an estimate of $13 billion in profits for forced sexual exploitation in 36 countries. So where did the $9.8 billion figure come from?  Basically it was the result of multiplying a guesstimate of profits to a guesstimate of people forced into prostitution. Read the article below for the specific details.

The second claim was said to be an FBI estimate. They have no record of this. Fact Checker suggests that the $9.5 billion figure may have come from a 2004 congressional testimony. However, even in this, the official was talking about profits from human smuggling and trafficking worldwide. So this estimate simply does not exist.

Fact Checker Article

Debunking Statistics

“On average, girls become victims of sex trafficking at 13 years old.”

This is just one of the statistics that we’ve heard that leads to some questioning. The following Fact Checker article explores this claim to explain how this number simply isn’t credible.
Fact Checker Article

The statistic was said to come from the FBI. However, it originally came from an opinion article that was once posted on the FBI website. The article sited a report from 2001, which interviewed 107 girls from either the street or in human service agencies. The average age of 13 was briefly mentioned in the report. The report was not peer reviewed and it is also at least 15 years old. So it is risky to generalize this number from a such slim outdated research.