Gender Issues

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 53–68 | Cite as

Buying Sex On-Line from Girls: NGO Representatives, Law Enforcement Officials, and Public Officials Speak out About Human Trafficking—A Qualitative Analysis

  • Sriyani Tidball
  • Mingying ZhengEmail author
  • John W. Creswell


Federal agencies report the high level of sex trafficking of minors in the United States. This trafficking often occurs on-line with the Internet. Pimps commonly advertise children for sexual exploitation online, and they search social networking sites for young victims. Thus, the high rate of trafficking minors and the increased use of technology have led to a need to better understand purchasing young girls for sex on-line. This qualitative study focused on learning from NGO representatives, law enforcement officials, and public officials their experiences about how men buy girls on-line for sex, and the words that the men use in the transactions. Moreover, it explored beliefs about human trafficking, the anti-trafficking practices, the criminal treatment of young victims, the safe places for girls to stay, and the sex trafficking programs available for these young women. To learn about these issues, we conducted thirty-eight interviewees with participants in four locations in the United Sates. Six different themes emerged: (1) familiarity of the interviewees with sex trafficking and its research: (2) law enforcement anti-trafficking practices, (3) the buying side of sex trafficking, (4) the criminal treatment of victims, (5) lack of safe places for girls to stay, and (6) the prevention, intervention, and assessment of sex trafficking programs. These results have important implications for human trafficking researchers, policymakers, law enforcement officials, and for those who provide services for the young girls.


Sex trafficking NGOs Law enforcement officials Public officials Victims 



This Project was funded by Microsoft Research and the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit of the Microsoft Corporation and University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL), April 2014.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Journalism and Mass CommunicationUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education and Human SciencesUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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