"The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania released a major study today on the prevalence of human trafficking among homeless youth. This groundbreaking research also examined child welfare-related factors, including history of child abuse and out-of-home placement among those who identified as victims of sex trafficking or who engaged in commercial sex.
Commissioned by Covenant House International, the research focused on Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix as part of the largest study to date on human trafficking among homeless youth. Researchers from the Field Center found that:
- 20 percent of those interviewed were victims of human trafficking. This includes 17 percent who were sex trafficked and 6 percent who trafficked for other labor.
- 14 percent engaged in “survival sex,” to meet basic needs such as food or housing.
- Among sex trafficking survivors, 41 percent were approached on their first night of homelessness.
- 95 percent of sex trafficking victims reported a history of child abuse or neglect.
'The findings from this study are both alarming and enlightening,' said Debra Schilling Wolfe, executive director of the Field Center, which brings together Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, Law School, School of Nursing, and Perelman School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in order to bring critical change to the child welfare system by shaping policy through research and legislative reform. 'As we learn more about who is at risk for sex trafficking, we can create policies and implement practices to actually prevent young people from being victimized and stem the pipeline to predators,' Wolfe said."