In the 2012 senses report from Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) 22% of the homeless population was children and youth. There was a 2% increase since 2010. In the Health and Human Services Report they quoted experts saying that within 48 hours of running away, an adolescent is likely to be approached to participate in prostitution or another form of commercial sexual exploitation.
Service providers in New York City report the average age girls enter prostitution has dropped from 14 to 13 reports in 2009 but now there are experts saying the average age is 12. For boys the age is 11-13 years-old when exploitation begins.
In the MDHA report they reported 1,012 minors living on the streets in 2012. Out of that number 66% were African American and 16% Hispanic and 12% Caucasian with 6% listed as other. Out of the youth that completed the survey 75% said they were homeless because of family problems.
Many organizations that fight human trafficking in North Texas know that homelessness and exploitation go hand in hand. Children and youth that are vulnerable and desperate will be easy prey for a trafficker and pimp.
In a research report by Children at Risk a Texas based non-profit stated:
Their age, lack of work experience, and absence of a high school diploma make it most difficult to find a job. As a result, they turn to other means for survival; runaways and throwaways are most vulnerable to falling prey to the sex trade, selling drugs, or being lured into human trafficking, and some steal or panhandle.
In North Texas it’s essential to address the issue of homeless youth in the fight against human trafficking. Looking into the problem’s that are causing Texas youth to run away. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness they say abuse is one of the main factors for runaways.
Homeless youth often flee homes where they experience physical abuse and between 17 and 35 percent experience sexual abuse.
A new term that was developed to address a form of homeless youth is “throwaway youth” who are youth that have forced out of their homes by family members and are living on the streets. The links between sexual exploited youth and homelessness is clear as American children are forced to survive on their own and become vulnerable to one of the worst forms of human trafficking, sex slavery.
Many North Texas non-profits are trying to help homeless youth like Children at Risk in Dallas, that addresses needed policies to protect children in Texas and the United States. I
In Fort Worth there are several organizations that are trying to help youth like ACH Child & Family Services helping youth with emergency housing. Tarrant County also offers a list of different outreach services to find out you can click here.