U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Experiences of Youth in the Sex Trade in Las Vegas

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2016
54 pages

This study of youth in the sex trade in Las Vegas, NV, is one of six site-specific reports that provide systematic, detailed findings from interviews with such youth at each site.


The aim of the larger multi-site study of youth in the sex trade is to provide an empirical foundation that will inform relevant professionals and advocates on the extent and nature of the needs of youth involved in the sex trade in the United States. This Las Vegas study involved in-depth interviews with 169 youth or young adults ages 24 or younger who reported involvement in the sex trade in Las Vegas. This was a two-wave 3-year study. Of those interviewed, 37 percent were male; 60 percent were female; and 3 percent were transgender. Sixteen percent were 17 years old or younger; 58 percent of the sample were African-Americans, 22 percent white, 6 percent Hispanic, and the remainder were either "other" or of mixed race/ethnicity. Five percent of female respondents and 3 percent of male respondents reported having been arrested for prostitution in the past year. Eighty-four percent of respondents entered the sex market before age 18, and another 12 percent entered it between ages 18 and 21. The most common mode of entrance into prostitution was through persuasion by a customer; others entered the market because they needed survival money, had friends or family members involved in sex work, needed money to support a drug habit, or were approached by a pimp or other market facilitator. Respondents experienced many disadvantages and obstacles in pursuing a more normative lifestyle, including health care, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, education, and job training. 1 table, 15 references, and appended methodological materials

Date Published: March 1, 2016