Sex traffickers are drawn to vulnerable kids. Young victims are often homeless or runaways, have previously been abused or neglected, or who have at some point been flagged by social service providers.
The latest report from UT Austin's Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault highlights the experiences of individuals from Houston, Lubbock and the Texas-Mexico border region who survived being trafficked at a young age.
Eighty-three percent of responders who identify as sex trafficking victims said they have also experienced some other form of exploitation, like wage theft or abuse.
The investigation outlines the "life cycle" of exploitiation, factoring in vulnerabilities like individual and environmental circumstances, as well the exploiters themselves. Almost 50 percent of victims interviewed reported being forced to participate in commercial sex by a romantic partner.
In what ways can family history or financial strain contribute to added risk and lack of stability for youth?
What are common signs of exploitation and what actions can you take to combat trafficking in your community?
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1 (888) 373-7888. Text 233733 or visit humantraffickinghotline.org for more information.
- Andrea Sparks, director of the Child Sex Trafficking Team in the Office of the Texas Governor
- Dixie Hairston, research project manager at The Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault at UT Austin
- Bruce Kellison, Director of Bureau of Business Research at IC² Institute at University of Texas at Austin and principal investigator for the report
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This interview aired on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.