The U.S. government is in its second decade of fighting global human trafficking, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) by evaluating how other governments fight these crimes and tying results to financial assistance. More recently, our government has turned its attention to domestic CSEC. Yet, as with other forms of child sexual abuse, the most common tactic is to wait for harm to occur and then punish offenders and try to help victims.
Instead of addressing CSEC as a public health problem that has causes and can be prevented — which it can — we are in a constant state of reaction that never gets us ahead of the problem.
At the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, we are doing the research that we hope will inform prevention measures and spark policy-makers to take a public health approach to ending child sexual abuse, which includes the commercial sexual exploitation of children. But of course we are only one part of the equation.