All youth can be recruited or forced into the sextrade.
However some youth are more at risk.
Youth in foster care and youth with child welfare involvement
A 2007 research report out of New York State found a high correlation between child welfare involvement and subsequent commercial sexual exploitation. between 85 to 89% of youth reported to be commercially sexually exploited had prior child welfare involvement.1
Youth who are homeless,AWOL, runaway, in unstable housing situations
Research results demonstrate a consistently high risk of involvement in survival sex or other forms of commercial sexual exploitation for youth without stable housing. the most recent federally funded national study found 70% of homeless youth are commercially sexually exploited.2
Out of school youth, unemployed youth, low or no income youth
While not documented specifically in research, youth in group discussions have reported a lack of money or survival needs (even when youth have a place to live), lack of access to jobs and lack of skills from dropping out or being pushed out of school as direct links to their involvement or consideration of the sex trade to make money.
Youth with family involved in the sex trade and/or an active sex trade in their community
Youth in prevention workshops continue to identify being around an active sex trade in their community or family members involved in the sex trade as a risk factor. Youth stress that people in the community are more likely to encourage or recruit them and an active sex trade normalizes the option.
Youth with a history of sexual abuse
All research studies that ask youth who are or have been involved in the sex trade about previous sexual abuse prior to any commercial sexual exploitation find rates of up to over 90%. Research also suggests that sexual abuse is a factor independent of any resulting running away or substance abuse.3
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Youth
Personally I disapprove of the word Queer…..by definition….abnormal or odd. Traditional teachings tell me that all human beings are spiritually equal in creation and have a purpose in the grand scheme of life. But the movement is because of the context in which it was reclaimed, queer has sociopolitical connotations, and is often preferred by those who are activists, by those who strongly reject traditional gender identities, by those who reject distinct sexual identities such as gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight, and by those who see themselves as oppressed by the heteronormativity of the larger culture. In this usage it retains the historical connotation of “outside the bounds of normal society” and can be construed as “breaking the rules for sex and gender.” It can be preferred because of its ambiguity, which allows “queer” identifying people to avoid the sometimes strict boundaries that surround other labels. In this context, “queer” is not a synonym for LGBT as it creates a space for “queer” heterosexuals as well as “non-queer” (“straight-acting”) homosexuals.4
LGBTQQ youth make up 20 to 40% of all homeless youth, resulting in high rates of survival sex.5
Additionally, a study in Canada found LGBT youth were three times more likely to trade sex for survival than heterosexual youth.5 Almost 60% of transgender youth reported exchanging sex for money in recent Chicago based research.
Youth of Color
African American minors are over-represented in prostitution arrests, comprising 55% of all arrests of juveniles for prostitution across the U.S. in 2002. Some of the evidence suggests this may have to do with unequal law enforcement strategies that target communities of color. However this may also reflect a higher involvement of African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American or First Nations, that experience higher rates of poverty and involvement in the child welfare system.
1. Gragg, F. et al. (2007). New York Prevalence Study of Commercially Sexually Exploited Children. http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/reports/CSEC-2007.pdf. Accessed April 8, 2009
2. Estes. R and Weiner N. (2001). The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the United States. Canada and Mexico. http://www.sp2.upenn.edu/-restes/csec Files/Complete CSEC 020220.pdf. Accesses April 8, 2009
3. Simons. R and Whitebeck, L. (1991) Sexual Abuse as a Precurser to prostitution and Victimization Among Adolescent and Adult Homeless Women. Journal of family Issues, 12(3).
5. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (2007). Lesbian,gay, bisexual and trangender youth: An epidemic of homelessness. http://www.thetaskforce.org/reports and research/homeless youth. Accessed April 8, 2009
6. (Gaetz, S. (2004). Safe streets for whom? Homeless youth, social exclusion, and criminal victimization. canadian Journal of Criminal Justice, 46(6).)
7.Howard Brown Health Center (2008). http://www.howardbrown.org/uploadFiles /HowardBrownResearchNews0408.pdf. Accessed April 8. 2009
8. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2002). Crime in the United States. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cuis 02/html/web/arrested/04-table43.html. Accessed April 8, 2009
Claudine O”Leary http://www.rethinkresources.net
A few personal thoughts by yours truly…