The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is any situation in which someone under the age of 18 performs a sex act or is otherwise sexually exploited and something of value, financial or otherwise, is exchanged. This may include, but is not limited to, situations in which someone else (an exploiter or “pimp”) benefits from this exchange. (WCSAP, 2010).

Key points in this definition are:

  • The exchange of something of value. This is not limited to strictly cash transactions. It may include goods or services, such as food or a place to stay (“Survival sex”), in exchange for drugs or for someone else to receive drugs.
  • Possible inclusion of a third party. Money or other “things of value” may not be received directly by the exploited child or retained by the child. The transaction may be brokered by, or the money transferred to, someone else (e.g., “pimp”).
  • Sexual exploitation is not limited to overt sexual acts. It may include pornography, stripping, etc.

Other related terms that are sometimes used include “Sex Trafficking,” “Child Sex Trafficking,” and “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.” The Federal government, defines “Sex Trafficking” as “recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion…or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age” (That is, when the victim is under 18, force, fraud, or coercion need not be present or proven for the commercial sex act to constitute sex trafficking). “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking” (DMST) refers specifically to the sex trafficking of American children within the United States.