If we want to fight the sexual exploitation of young people, we absolutely must fight youth homelessness. Kids who don’t have a safe place to stay enter a direct pipeline to the pimps and exploiters who recognize their desperation and are waiting to prey on them.
Covenant House New York‘s trafficking study, recently completed with Fordham University, showed that almost a quarter of the homeless young people surveyed had been commercially sexually exploited, either by being trafficked or by having to trade sex for something of value, usually a safe place to stay. Half of the kids who engaged in commercial sex said they would not have done so if they had had safe shelter. Covenant House New York provides shelter and services to 3,000 young people each year, which means about 700 of them may have been exploited sexually. And that’s the estimate for kids living in just one program, on one block, in one city. The scope of the problem nationally is staggering.
New York has precedent-setting laws to protect the young sexually-exploited victim. It is time we break more ground by backing them up with funding for promised services, so we can help survivors of human trafficking work towards the bright futures they deserve.
Learn more at Kevin M. Ryan’s Huffington Post article: Want to Fight Trafficking? Fight Homelessness.