sexual, physical and otherwise

Race Plays a Major Role in Human Trafficking

“The color of my skin was the predominant variable in my childhood that led to the abuse — sexual, physical and otherwise,” he said.

Unseen: The Boy Victims of the Sex Trade Pt. 2 (

A 2016 national study by the New York-based Center for Court Innovation found that more than a third of young people who sold sex for something of value were boys and young men, and 85 percent of the youth were Black and brown. Under federal law any youth under the age of 18 involved in the sex trade is considered a trafficking victim.

Shaplaie Brooks — program director for a Dorchester-based program called BUILD focusing on helping sexually exploited and trafficked males — says she works with many young people who have been kicked out of their homes, finding themselves leaning on predators who push them out on the streets. Most of her clients are youths of color.

But getting male victims of sexual exploitation to come forward, especially in Latino and Black communities, poses a significant challenge, Brooks said. Very few males who work in the sex trade, or survived it, will admit to having been exploited or trafficked. It’s a hard truth, said Brooks, that is clouded by a fear of facing transphobia and homophobia.

Unseen: The Boy Victims of the Sex Trade Pt. 2 (