It is true that any one of us, man, woman or child, can be a victim of human trafficking. Trafficking can happen to any of our sons and daughters.

But the reality is that pimps and other traffickers prefer to go after the most vulnerable amongst us, including children in foster care, the homeless who have no family to look for them, young people with mental health issues and youth who have been previously sexually abused.

A federally funded study found that approximately 1.7 million youth run away or are forced to leave their homes each year. While away from home, an estimated 38,600 (2.2%) of these youth were sexually assaulted, were in the company of someone known to be sexually abusive, or were engaged in sexual activity in exchange for money, food, or shelter. Runaways are perceived as easy targets for pimps/traffickers because they often cannot g home and have few resources.

LGBTQ youth who have been thrown out by their families are also at especially high risk for trafficking victimization. Vulnerable youth who are looking for love and basic necessities of life including food and shelter are easy prey for traffickers/pimps offering false affection, food and a place to stay the night.

A 2013 study by Fordham University and Covenant House New York found that close to 25% of our sampled young people had either experienced trafficking or felt the need to trade sex for food, money or a place to stay. The truth is as simple as it is startling, the streets are a scary place for a kid to spend the night, and when the shelters are full, predators are ready and willing to offer a place to stay.

Be an educated advocate. learn the facts about trafficking in the U.S.