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Youth Involvement in the Sex Trade: A National Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
Center for Court Innovation
This multi-method, multi-site study produced comprehensive ethnographic findings on youth in the sex trade in each of the six research sites, based on nearly 1,000 interviews with youth in the sex trade, a population estimate, official criminal justice data sources, and interviews with service providers.
Overall, most youths who enter the sex trade have limited options available to them. Most left home at a young age, and many experienced severe childhood trauma. Their skills and capacity to leave the sex trade and enter the mainstream routine of stable housing, education, and legal work are limited. Many are male or transgender, and the majority do not have pimps. The vast majority were born in the United States. This report advises that helping these youth leave the sex trade will require more than a single, generic model; it will require the provision of multi-faceted initiatives that address difficult challenges, including these youths’ self-concept. Data on demographic characteristics of youth in the sex trade encompass gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, age, place of birth, living situation, and whether they have children. Data in their involvement in the sex market address background on market entry, work hours, weekly income, methods for obtaining customers, and working conditions. Data also cover the prevalence of “pimps,” the imposition and nature of rules youth were expected to follow in the sex trade, and the prevalence of market facilitators. Data are also provided on youths’ interactions with law enforcement agencies, involvement in other illegal activities, interactions with social services and major service needs, differences by site, and the criminal justice response. 20 tables, 1 figure, approximately 60 references, and appended methodological materials
Date Created: July 7, 2016