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Human Trafficking Victimization Among Youth Who Run Away From Foster Care

NCJ Number
Children and Youth Services Review Volume: 98 Dated: 2019 Pages: 113-124
Natasha E. Latzman; Deborah Gibbs; Rose Feinberg,; Marianne N. Kluckman; Sue Aboul-Hosn
Date Published
12 pages
Since domestic minor human trafficking (HT) is a growing social justice concern, particularly among youth in the child welfare system, this study used administrative data to describe the characteristics and experiences of a population of youth in the child welfare system considered to be at particularly high risk of victimization, i.e., youth who have run away from foster care.

Analyses were based on nearly 37,000 youth with at least one foster-care placement in Florida at age 10 or older between 2011 and 2017. The characteristics of youth were examined with and without at least one foster care runaway episode, as well as the characteristics and experiences of youth with and without one or more HT allegations while on runaway status. Of the youth with at least one foster placement at age 10 or older, approximately 19 percent (7,039) had at least one foster care runaway episode; and of these youth, 7 percent (542) had an HT allegation while on runaway status. Youth with HT allegations (compared to those without) during a foster care runaway episode were more likely to be female; to have experienced prior physical, psychological and sexual abuse; run from care at a younger age; experience more foster care placements since entry into the child welfare system; and experience more foster care runaway episodes. For most youth with a HT allegation during runaway status, the first identified trafficking allegation occurred during a foster care runaway episode. Most youth did not have another HT allegation up to a year later. Implications for research and child welfare policy and programs are discussed. (publisher abstract modified)