When you type “child enticement” into a search engine, news stories of missing children or attorney websites pop up, but what does this term mean? What does it include? Today, the term “child enticement” usually means luring children, often by using the Internet, to engage in sexual activities or be part of child pornography.
Few states have a comprehensive “child enticement” statute that draws these together into a single crime. Rather, the term usually combines several topics—child pornography, pandering (offering to buy, sell, trade, or provide child porn), sexual abuse of children, underage marriage, and prostitution—and defendants are convicted under one or several of these laws, depending on the circumstances of the offense.
Many child enticement statutes that do exist are old, and don’t always address things you might think would (or should) be covered, such as the use of newer technologies like the Internet to lure children into dubious situations. States that do have a child enticement law on the books will give an age (usually 14, 16, or 18) under which a person is considered a “child” for the purposes of the offense. The statute will also list which behavior or actions are illegal (such as, for example, soliciting a child to take part in sexual acts), and what the penalties are for violating the statute. But again, these laws are limited, and other statutes will usually also apply.