One-fifth of homeless youth in Philly have been trafficked for sex, new study finds
By KATIE COLANERI
It’s something advocates for homeless young people have known for a long time: That vulnerable population is often targeted by human traffickers.
Now, a major new survey of nearly 1,000 homeless youth in Philadelphia and 12 other cities across the U.S. and Canada has found about one-fifth or 19.4 percent of them were forced to work or sell their bodies for the profit of those who exploited them.
The survey was part of an effort by nonprofit Covenant House International to turn anecdotal evidence into hard data on the prevalence of trafficking among homeless young people. The organization claims this is the largest national study of its kind.
“We really haven’t done good research about this and part of it is access to young people who are trafficked or being victimized,” said Debra Schilling Wolfe, executive director of the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research. “Because it’s an underground problem, it’s an underground population.”
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