Youth Experiencing Homelessness are Vulnerable to Sex Trafficking in Kentuckiana


Jennifer Middleton, PhD, MSW, LCSW & Stephanie Grace Prost, PhD, MSW | September 21 | 4:00-5:00 PM

Topic: Research | Knowledge Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Recent scholars have noted that homelessness is a risk factor for sex trafficking (Hudson & Nandy, 2012), but much remains unknown regarding the prevalence and correlates of sex trafficking—knowledge critical to identifying needs and later intervention opportunities for young people who are sex trafficked and experiencing homelessness. This presentation highlights findings of a recent prevalence study conducted by researchers from the University of Louisville, which surveyed young people experiencing homelessness throughout Kentuckiana receiving services at nine homeless service provision sites throughout the region. Kentuckiana contains the metropolitan areas of Kentucky and Indiana, including eight counties in Kentucky and five counties in Southern Indiana. The study utilized the Youth Experiences Survey (YES), a self-report measure that includes questions regarding demographics, place of origin, living situation, family connection, drug and alcohol use, trauma history, and physical and behavioral health history. Findings indicate that approximately 41% of reporting youth experienced sex trafficking. Furthermore, while all reporting youth and young adults face a myriad of physical and behavioral health concerns, youth and young adults who were sex trafficked emerged as having uniquely problematic experiences. Additionally, 70% of youth who were trafficked reported social media and various technologies were involved directly in their recruitment and sale. This has important implications for homelessness service provision sites, as well as the broader system of care that serves these youth and young adults. Findings can assist organizations in developing innovative, trauma-informed intervention and prevention programs focused on combatting sex trafficking among young, vulnerable populations. Such efforts are key to enhancing service provision and ultimately, to reducing the prevalence and consequences of sex trafficking.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Pinpoint populations that are most at-risk for human trafficking.

·  Describe the scope of sex trafficking in Kentuckiana and ways in which technology is used to facilitate commercial sexual exploitation.

·  Identify the most common types of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) of youth who have been trafficked.

·  Single out the ways in which the service needs of sex trafficked homeless youth vary from the service needs of non-trafficked homeless youth.

About the Presenters