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Experiences of Youth in the Sex Trade in Chicago: Issues in Youth Poverty and Homelessness

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2016
54 pages
This study of youth in the sex trade in Chicago, IL, is one of six site-specific reports that provide systematic, detailed findings from interviews with such youth at each site.
The aim of the multi-site study of youth in the sex trade is to provide an empirical foundation that will inform relevant professionals and advocates on the extent and nature of the needs of youth involved in the sex trade in the United States. The current report features the opinions and experiences of 202 youth ages 13-24 who self-defined as having traded sex for money or other needs in Chicago. Interviews were conducted over a period from 2011 to 2013. Findings are derived from qualitative interviews and observations that focused on these youths' experiences with needs and services from three areas of the city (Southside, Westside, and Northside). According to the youth interviewed, the only aspect of the sex trade they liked was the money. Most envisioned having their own homes and being wealthy in 10 years. Most mentioned getting a legitimate job, going back to school, finding housing, and finding supportive people as the most likely way to have a satisfying future. The authors advise that some of these youth need job training, life skills development, leadership guidance, and critical education about social injustice. Others need health care and housing. All wish to be helped as individuals on a case-by-case basis in an atmosphere of respect for their autonomy and preferences. The researchers note that children kept indoors under the control of adults or for sale in secrecy did not volunteer to participate in this research, and those who participated had no knowledge of such practices. Eight recommendations for serving these youth are offered. 12 exhibits and 34 references

Date Published: March 1, 2016