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Estimating the Prevalence of Trafficking Among Homeless and Runaway Youth Age 14-25 in Metro Atlanta

Award Information

Award #
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Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $499,905)

The 2015 Trafficking in Persons report indicates that children in the child welfare and juvenile justice system, runaway and homeless youth, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals are among the most vulnerable for trafficking. More research is needed about the characteristics of vulnerable youth, their trafficking experiences -including both sex and labor - and how they interact with institutions to help estimate prevalence. This research builds on the 2015 Atlanta Youth Count and Needs Assessment (AYCNA), the first comprehensive, community-driven, regional effort to describe and estimate the size of the homeless and runaway youth population aged 14-25 in metro-Atlanta. The researchers estimate that approximately 3,373 homeless and runaway youth live in the immediate metro area. Of those surveyed, 49.2% reported having been sexually abused, involved in paid sex activities, and/or sex trafficked, and 20.0% indicated being involved in the informal economy in the past month, suggesting risk for labor trafficking as well. This new research project builds on the AYCNA by a) expanding the geographic focus; b) improving the measurement of the youth's sex and labor trafficking experiences and contact with law enforcement; and, c) utilizing these data to improve law enforcement and social service policies and practices and has two specific research aims: 1) estimate the prevalence of sex and labor trafficking among homeless and runaway youth in the Atlanta-metro area through capture-recapture estimation, and 2) understand the structure of the underground sex economy. In Phase 1, researchers will utilize ethnographic methods to cultivate community contacts and a working map of the social location and movement of homeless youth. Working with law enforcement and trafficking survivors, the research team will revise and expand the survey to assess a broader range of trafficking experiences and law enforcement contact. In Phase 2, field research teams will conduct systematic sweeps of the identified areas using capture-recapture methods and survey 900-1,800 unique homeless and runaway youth in metro-Atlanta. In Phase 3, the team will engage law enforcement and social service providers in a structured community conversation about the data, and will work to translate the findings into concrete recommendations regarding strategies, policies, and practices to improve the responsiveness and support services available to youth trafficking survivors in the metro-Atlanta area. The results of this study also will be disseminated both to the local and national community through web-based publications of issue briefs, and to researchers through scholarly publication outlets. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 28, 2016