Understanding SECTT

Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism (SECTT)

The sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism encompasses a broad spectrum of exploitation of children including in prostitution and pornography, for the production of online child abuse material, and in the sale and trafficking of children in all its forms, as well as various travel products that put children at risk of exploitation, such as voluntourism, orphanage tourism and mega sporting events.

The majority of offenders are in fact domestic travellers however as most often reported in the media are also many international travellers. Some international travellers visit countries for the specific purpose of engaging in sexual exploitation of children, while other offenders are more opportunistic.  All take advantage of travel and tourism infrastructure in order to commit their crimes.

Who are the offenders

A misconception is that all tourists who sexually exploit children are pedophiles when, in reality, the majority of offending tourists are what is known as “situational offenders.”

Pedophiles are defined as individuals who have a clinical disorder characterized by an exclusive or preferential sexual inclination for pre-pubescent children (girls or boys), usually 12 years old and younger.

On the other hand, “situational offenders” abuse children as a means of experimentation. They do this because they feel protected by the sense of anonymity and impunity that comes with being a tourist. Unlike pedophiles, these tourists DO NOT exclusively prefer children — instead, they interact indiscriminately with a variety of sex partners, including those under 18 years of age if the opportunity presents itself. Because organized criminals have created a thriving underaged sex market, situational child sex tourists find many opportunities to engage in illicit acts with minors.



    • Recruiters
    • Traffickers
    • Pimps
  • Brothel owner

The offenders on ‘supply’ side are usually family members, including parents, friends, lovers, or trusted acquaintance. They all act in a way to deceive, manipulate, trick children into sexual exploitation in order to gain. Offenders often use violence, blackmail and drugs to control children.

    • Offending Tourist 
      Situational – indiscriminate sex tourist
    • Paedophile
      Exclusive sexual preference for pre-pubescent children; clinical disorder.
  • Travelling Child Sex Offender
    Already has a criminal record for sexual abuse or exploitation of children in home country but are able to travel abroad. 

Impact & Consequences

Child survivors of exploitation must carry with them the trauma of having suffered extreme physical and sexual abuse. That trauma has a negative impact on the child’s physical, mental and emotional health. Physical risks include poor health, unwanted pregnancies for girls and a greater likelihood of HIV infection among both male and female victims of child sex exploitation.

Psychological trauma also contributes to problematic behavior and trust issues, which have an impact on the child’s ability to reintegrate back into society. As a result, many child survivors have substance abuse problems as they turn to drugs and alcohol in order to cope with their pain. Many will have suicidal thoughts and tendencies throughout the course of their lives because they feel unloved, ashamed and worthless.