The following is an excerpt from a current article on youth.gov
According to a recently released Institute of Medicine (IOC) and National Research Council (NRC) report, Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States, sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States are commonly overlooked, misunderstood, and unaddressed forms of child abuse.” 1 This abuse has been found to have both short- and long-term physical, emotional, and legal consequences.
The IOC/NRC report defines commercial sexual exploitation (i.e., survival sex) and sex trafficking (i.e., prostitution) of minors as a range of crimes that includes
- recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, and/or maintaining (acts that constitute trafficking) a minor for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation;
- exploiting a minor through prostitution;
- exploiting a minor through survival sex (exchanging sex/sexual acts for money or something of value, such as shelter, food, or drugs);
- exploiting a minor through sex tourism; and
- exploiting a minor by having her or him perform in sexual venues (e.g., peep shows, strip clubs).
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This agency should be included in the list of those who have overlooked, misunderstood, and unaddressed forms of child abuse. In 2017 what was described as the “largest-ever research studies ” found that in the United States and Canada one-fifth of homeless youths are victims of human trafficking. The dual studies were done by researchers at The Field Center for Children’s Policy at the University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University (New Orleans) Modern Slavery Research Project.
Of the 911 homeless youths from 13 cities who were interviewed 19.4% were victims of human trafficking, with 15% having been trafficked for sex, 7.4%, trafficked for labor, and 13% trafficked for both. Although LGBTQ youth made up only 19.2% of the youth interviewed, they were 33.8% of the sex trafficking victims and 31% of those who engaged in the sex trade.
The reasons our youth, both female and male, become homeless are many and varied but they are all vulnerable to the heartless and unscrupulous. Desparate kids are then bought and sold. This country needs to focus on identifying at-risk youth and addressing their needs before they become homeless. If and when they fall through the cracks of the system, they need what we all need – shelter, work, security. More resources are needed to support these kinds of services and additional providers to assist those most at risk.