Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Martha Councell-Vargas

Second Advisor

Ken Smith


human trafficking, sex trafficking, domestic minor sex trafficking, DMST, social justice


Every day, an estimated 100,000 residents of the United States are sold for sex. At least half of these victims are under the age of 18. Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) has tragically plagued the U.S. for decades and even centuries, but it has only come into the public spotlight within the last fifteen years. As a result, there are few widespread sources of information about DMST, and even fewer resources for victims and survivors. DMST is a branch of human trafficking, which the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines as “(A) Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such has not attained 18 years of age; or (B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, personage, debt bondage or slavery.” Most often, victims of DMST are coerced into slavery through trickery by an older man who poses as a boyfriend, but other means of entry exist. In order to combat the unknowing recruitment of girls and boys to DMST, individuals who have regular contact and an existing relationship with children should be aware of the signs of DMST and the venues through which they can respond to a crisis. It is the opinion of the author that school teachers, who have previously been uninformed and uninvolved in this area, have the potential to be excellent first responders and advocates for victims of DMST. This essay, aimed mainly at educators, serves to present an overview of DMST in the United States, recognize the signs of DMST, and provide resources for those who are concerned about a potential case of DMST to respond to the situation and effectively involve other professionals, such as law enforcement, social workers, and counselors.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access