WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING?
Sex trafficking is the crime of using force, fraud or coercion to induce another individual to sell sex. Common types include escort services, pornography, illicit massage businesses, brothels, and outdoor solicitation.
Labor trafficking is the crime of using force, fraud or coercion to induce another individual to work or provide service. Common types include agriculture, domestic work, restaurants, cleaning services, and carnivals.
Youth and young adults who experience homelessness may also be survivors of sex or labor trafficking in cities, suburbs, rural communities, and American Indian Reservations across the country. Research from numerous studies has found trafficking rates among youth and young adults experiencing homelessness range from 19% to 40%.
Some youth experiencing homelessness are even more vulnerable to trafficking than these numbers suggest, and interviews with youth illustrate some common themes and pathways:
- Engaging in survival sex to meet basic needs, including clothing, food, and shelter.
- Homelessness and trafficking begin early, often well before age 18.
- Girls and young women are more likely to experience trafficking, but boys and young men also experience high levels of trafficking.
- When sex trafficking victims were asked what could have helped prevent their being trafficked, the most common response was having supportive parents or family members.
- Youth experiencing homelessness who have also been victims of sex trafficking are more likely to have mental health and substance use issues, to have experienced physical and emotional abuse by parents or guardians, and to have a history of sexual abuse
Using this research, policymakers, service providers, and advocates can and must bring about change to meet young people’s basic needs to prevent and address homelessness and trafficking.