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Experiences of Youth in the Sex Trade in Atlantic City

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2016
50 pages

This study of youth in the sex trade in Atlantic City, NJ, 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. Although the Atlantic City research did not produce the statistically representative sample necessary to provide strong demographic conclusions or scientific comparisons, the authors believe that the extensive ethnographic presence, connections, and collaborative key informants in the city with a small resident population and an even smaller street-level sex market makes the survey closer to a complete census than most methods. These findings suggest that the typical minor or adolescent involved in Atlantic City's sex trade is white, uses drugs regularly, is a runaway from a highly problematic family situation, has experienced rape or other sexual abuse at some time in his/her life, and is vulnerable to street-based violence. Sex market facilitators are typically adults, who derive significant income from the sexual labor of shifting groups of market-involved adolescents. One of the most notable unexpected findings was the relative invisibility of street sex markets. Perhaps this was due to the large number of police in Atlantic City; however, a more probable explanation is the sex market's use of the internet, which is typical of what is occurring in sex markets elsewhere. Options for a change into mainstream living are limited for these youth; their skills and education levels limit them to minimum wage legitimate jobs, and options for schooling and specialized job training involve a combination of parental permission and support that is not an option. 10 references and appended methodological materials

Date Published: March 1, 2016