Labor and Sex Trafficking Among Homeless Youth--A Ten-City Study: Full Report

Murphy, L.T.
Year Published: 2017
Modern Slavery Research Project, Loyola University New Orleans

This document is the full report of the Modern Slavery Research Project study of sex and labor trafficking among youth, which replicated and expanded earlier studies conducted by Fordham University/Covenant House New York and Loyola University New Orleans/Covenant House New Orleans. At the invitation of Covenant House International and 10 of its individual sites in the United States and Canada, researchers from Loyola University New Orleans' Modern Slavery Research Project (MSRP) conducted a study examining the prevalence and nature of human trafficking among homeless youth aged 17 to 25. The researchers interviewed 641 homeless and runaway youth who access services through Covenant House's network of shelters, transitional living and apartment programs, and drop-in centers using the Human Trafficking Interview and Assessment Measure (HTIAM-14) to assess whether youth had been trafficked for sex or labor in their lifetimes. The study found that 19 percent of the 641 youth were identified as victims of some sort of human trafficking. More than 14 percent had been trafficked for sex while 8 percent had been trafficked for other forced labor. Three percent were trafficked for both sex and labor. Homeless youth are vulnerable to both sex and labor trafficking because they tend to experience a higher rate of the primary risk factors to trafficking: poverty, unemployment, a history of sexual abuse, and a history of mental health issues. The researchers conclude that runaway and homeless youth shelters and programs should be equipped to meet the needs of trafficked youth because they are able to address the root economic and societal problems that make youth vulnerable to exploitation. With programs directly responsive to the heightened needs of trafficking victims, shelters can effectively help trafficking survivors and prevent other youth from being expkloited using an approach that includes prevention, outreach, confidential and inclusive identification, and specialized interventions. 

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