Youth Experiences Survey (YES): Exploring the Scope and Complexity of Sex Trafficking in a Sample of Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Jennifer S. Middleton, Maurice N. Gattis, Laura M. Frey, Dominique Roe-Sepowitz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Scopus citations


    In the United States, sex trafficking victims have been identified at ages across the lifespan but young persons (under age 25) have been found to have unique vulnerabilities. At-risk youth, such as those who run away from home or those experiencing homelessness, are also at an increased risk of sexual exploitation. To better understand the scope and complexity of sex trafficking among these at-risk youth, a convenience sample of 131 homeless youth aged 12 to 25 years old experiencing homelessness recruited from Kentuckiana youth service providers completed an enhanced version of the Youth Experiences Survey (YES). Univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted. Results indicated that 41.2% of the homeless youth were victims of sex trafficking. The sex trafficked youth were more likely to report previous self-harm behaviors, suicide attempts, and substance use. This study not only provides support for improved service delivery, but also provides essential statistics that should inform internal policy and procedures for youth serving agencies in Kentucky and Indiana. Findings highlight a need for trauma-informed interventions designed to treat not only females but also males and LGBTQ youth. Additionally, service providers should consider partnering with victim providers and clinicians to offer therapeutic groups, individual therapy, and supportive services that increase prevention, education, and wraparound care for clients. In regards to future research, findings point towards a need to better understand the role that trauma and adverse childhood experiences may play in making young people vulnerable to sex trafficking, and encourage the need for testing prevention and early intervention practices among vulnerable youth.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)141-157
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Social Service Research
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Mar 15 2018


    • at-risk youth
    • homeless youth
    • human trafficking
    • sex trafficking
    • sexual exploitation
    • trauma

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Sociology and Political Science


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