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Youth Homelessness: A High Sex Trafficking Area Often Ignored

Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which someone is forced, coerced, or deceived into engaging in commercial sex acts. Victims of sex trafficking are often recruited through false promises of a better life or job opportunities and then forced to work in the sex industry against their will.

Traffickers use tactics such as physical violence, emotional abuse, and threats to control their victims and prevent them from leaving. Victims of sex trafficking may be forced to work in prostitution, pornography, or strip clubs, and are often subjected to brutal and degrading treatment.

Sex trafficking is a serious crime and a violation of basic human rights. It affects people of all ages, genders, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and is a global problem that requires coordinated efforts to prevent and combat.

There is a clear link between homelessness and an increased risk of being sex trafficked. Human traffickers specifically target youth facing homelessness. Here is some information on how homelessness raises the chances of being sex trafficked:

  1. Vulnerability: Homeless individuals are often more vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation by traffickers due to their lack of stable housing, financial resources, and support networks.

  2. Survival Sex: To meet basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing, homeless individuals may engage in "survival sex" -- trading sex for money or other resources -- which can put them at risk of falling prey to traffickers.

  3. Lack of Resources: Homeless individuals may lack access to health care, legal services, and other resources that could help them escape or report trafficking situations.

  4. Targeted Recruitment: Traffickers may specifically target homeless individuals, knowing that they are often desperate and have few options for survival.

  5. Mental Health Issues: Homeless individuals may also be more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, which can make them more vulnerable to trafficking.

Overall, homelessness and sex trafficking are interconnected issues that require targeted efforts to address. By providing stable housing, resources, and support to homeless individuals, CHGW helps reduce exposure to vulnerable situations, exploitation and helps protect them from the dangers of sex trafficking.

Here’s the data:

  • Our research shows that 68% of youth who had either been trafficked or engaged in survival sex had done so while homeless. What’s more, 22% of youth were approached for paid sex on their first night of homelessness.

  • One in five runaway and homeless youth is a victim of human trafficking- inclusive of sex and labor trafficking.

  • 68 percent of the youth who had either been trafficked or engaged in survival sex or commercial sex had done so while homeless.

  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse experiencing homelessness are at particularly high risk for sex trafficking

  • LGBTQ youth and youth who have been in foster care experience trafficking at higher rates than other youth.

Want to get involved? There are many ways you can get involved in sex trafficking prevention and reduction for homeless youth:

  1. Educate Yourself: Learn more about the issue of sex trafficking and its impact on homeless youth. This will help you understand the root causes of the problem and the best ways to address it. Learn more.

  2. Volunteer: Consider volunteering with organizations that support homeless youth or work to combat sex trafficking. There are many local and national organizations that offer a range of volunteer opportunities, from mentoring to advocacy to direct service. Be a volunteer!

  3. Donate: Support organizations that work to provide resources and services to homeless youth, such as shelter, food, clothing, and medical care. Your donations can help these organizations provide critical assistance to vulnerable youth and prevent them from falling prey to traffickers. Donate Now.

  4. Advocate: Use your voice to advocate for policies and programs that address the root causes of homelessness and sex trafficking, such as affordable housing, education, and job training. Write to your elected officials, share information on social media, and attend rallies and protests to raise awareness about the issue. Learn more and sign the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA) of 2022 petition.

  5. Recognize Signs: Be aware of the signs of sex trafficking and report any suspicious activity to local authorities or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

By taking action and supporting efforts to address youth homelessness and sex trafficking, we can make a difference in the lives of vulnerable youth and help prevent them from becoming victims of exploitation and abuse.

Other Resources, Information, & References:


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