How to spot child sex trafficking and abuse

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- For days, you've been hearing about a Tennessee teen, who went missing along with her teacher.

Tad Cummins (left) and Catherine Elizabeth Thomas (right)

Phoenix Rising is a domestic Anti-Trafficking organization led by survivors, who spoke with 13 News on the signs to look for.

"We've had children that have been used for sex trafficking, right here, on Scottsville Road," Survivor Leader, Vicki Patterson said.

It's a simple tip, but something all parents need to be doing - keeping an eye on what their children are doing on social media.

"The virginity thing is a very big problem with Junior High and High School girls. They're selling their virginity online," Patterson said.

Phoenix Rising says that there's a few signs you can look for in victims of sex trafficking, like branding and tattoos.

"Bruises, broken bones, any type of medical care that they might need," Patterson said. "Someone that is doing responses or has to have someone speak for them," Patterson added.

A child or young adult being put into sex trafficking or child abuse can be done by someone they trust.

"I was used in the 1950's and the 1960's in child pornography. And it was my mother, that had put me in the child pornography," Patterson said.

In Elizabeth Thomas's case, it was her teacher.

"He preyed on her. He was the authority figure. He was the one that should not have even made any attempt to do anything with one of his students," Patterson said.

Children who have a troubled home life, are even more susceptible to be a victim of sexual abuse.

"He may have told her, 'oh I love you' and made her think she's special. And showered her with whatever to get her hooked. And so, then there's the emotional tie that comes in," Patterson added.

But it's important to always remember.

"She was not the problem, she was the victim. And I know that as a victim, you can become a survivor, and then a thriver," Patterson said.

Phoenix Rising encourages you to learn more about sex trafficking, by clicking on the links attached.

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