In Latin America and the Caribbean, children and youth are lured into commercial sexual exploitation through false promises and a lack of positive life options, while weak law-enforcement and uneven legal protection in many countries compromise efforts to fight this exploitation. Trafficking of children for sexual purposes is often linked to organised and violent crime and fighting the problem is made more difficult because of porous borders and the ‘pull’ factor of the United States. A lack of legal and social protection for adolescents and poor regional coordination and collaboration hampers broader prevention efforts and services to victims. In the US, exploiters distribute images of sexual abuse of children over the Internet, while in Canada and the US the prostitution of children and youth receives inadequate attention from government.
In Central America, ECPAT works to promote legislative reform and improve law enforcement; and develops technical tools for police, immigration officials, and NGOs to use in their work. In South America, ECPAT has undertaken research to study the roots and manifestations of the ‘demand’ for sex with children and is using this work as a base for designing targeted interventions against the many factors that fuel it. ECPAT is also supporting the development of civil society coalitions at national levels to encourage collaborative action against commercial sexual exploitation of children.