Child Human Trafficking

Are your children at risk?

Christine Suehle, MPA
Sr. V.P. Business Development

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates that between 244,000 and 325,000 American youth are considered at risk for sexual exploitation, and an estimated 199,000 incidents of sexual exploitation of minors occur each year in the United States. Fifty-four percent are girls.

What is Child Human Trafficking?

Trafficking of children is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children can take many forms and includes forcing a child into prostitution or other forms of sexual activity or child pornography. Child exploitation can also include: forced labor or services; slavery or practices similar to slavery; servitude; the removal of organs; illicit international adoption; trafficking for early marriage; recruitment as child soldiers; for use in begging or as athletes (such as child camel jockeys or football players); or for recruitment for cults.

Traffickers, who are also known as pimps or madams, exploit vulnerabilities among youth, while offering promises of marriage, employment, education, and/or an overall better life. However, in the end, traffickers force the victims to become prostitutes or work in the sex industry. Work in the sex industry includes: prostitution; dancing in strip clubs; performing in pornographic films and pornography; and other forms of involuntary servitude. Underage sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are often runaways, troubled, and homeless youth.

What is Aspire Doing to Help Victims of Human Trafficking?

The Oasis Human Trafficking Initiative provides dedicated residential treatment beds for adolescents, ages 14-17, who are victims of Human Trafficking. Youth who enter the Oasis program will receive gender and culturally appropriate, trauma informed recovery services in a safe and supportive environment. Services will include: mental health, substance use and co-occurring disorder treatment services. The program is specifically designed to address the physical, emotional and sexual trauma experienced by these youth. Residents are also enrolled in educational and vocational services, including credit retrieval and remedial tutoring.

Oasis youth reside in a safe, secure facility that restricts access to those individuals not directly associated with their treatment. Experiential therapy is incorporated into the weekly schedule including, when appropriate, athletic and service day trips, therapeutic wilderness trips, and ROPES challenge courses which rebuild trust. Through a unique partnership with Cirque du Soleil, Oasis has a Cirque du Monde program in which youth participate in 9-week workshops on site run by Cirque performers to bring out the talent in each of these youth. Upon completion of the workshops, the youth participate in a performance choreographed and produced by the residents themselves. This unique opportunity allows youth to build self-esteem, self-confidence and trusting relationships while transitioning back into a healthy lifestyle where they become survivors and no longer victims.

Oasis offers a unique residential setting for Human Trafficking Victims in need of a safe environment and a comprehensive array of services.

Should you or someone you know need such services, please contact the Oasis Program Director, Ms. Josette Shipman Lopez via email: or via phone: 407-846-5294