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Experiences of Youth in the Sex Trade in North Texas: Shattered Lives

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2016
58 pages
This study of youth in the sex trade in the area of Dallas, TX, 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 Dallas study included face-to-face interviews with 78 youth, ages 13-24 who engaged in sex for money. Those interviewed engaged in prostitution as a result of their life circumstances; many transgender and gay youth experienced personal or familial conflict stemming from their sexuality and/or gender identity, which then drove the youth to more extreme engagement in homosexual or transgender lifestyles out of desperation. The struggle of the youth, and often their customers, to accept an unconventional gender identity or sexuality bolsters the argument that greater access to mental health support is needed for individuals with unconventional gender identities, as well as their families. The belief that prostitution is a temporary solution to an immediate problem was prevalent, but moving on to more normative lifestyles is made difficult by mental health issues and the lack of education or job training. This report recommends that social service agencies focus on these needs of youth involved in the sex trade; however, low self-esteem due to parental rejection and society's negative views of their sexual behavior and sexual orientation have undermined their willingness to seek help from social agencies perceived as staffed by personnel with attitudes representative of normative society. 1 table, 1 figure, and 17 references

Date Published: March 1, 2016