Kentucky: 40 percent of area homeless youth surveyed had been victims of sex trafficking

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 1, 2017) – Attorney General Andy Beshear today called the findings of a human trafficking study by the University of Louisville “revealing.”

The study found that 40 percent of homeless youth surveyed in Louisville and southern Indiana reported being victims of sex trafficking, mostly in exchange for money or lodging. The study found 70 percent of the sex trafficked youth reported that technology was used as part of their sex trafficking victimization.

Beshear joined university researchers on campus Wednesday to announce the Youth Experiences Survey that studied homeless youth aged 12-25 during two weeks in October 2016, to determine the scope of sex trafficking in Kentuckiana.

“Human trafficking represents the worst form of abuse, often to children, and it is increasing all over Kentucky,” Beshear said. “The results of UofL’s study are revealing, and confirm that human trafficking is occurring right in our backyards among the most vulnerable populations like Kentucky’s homeless youth.”

Over the last year, Beshear has established the Kentucky Attorney General’s office as the leading agency fighting human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery in which adults and children are forced into sex or labor services.

In 2016, his office assisted with 28 human trafficking arrests; trained hundreds of individuals; and was selected by the Department of Justice as the first Kentucky government agency to receive a federal human trafficking grant, which will help hire a specially trained human trafficking investigator. The office has also forged partnerships with the trucking and hospitality industries, and the Baptist Convention.

Human trafficking victims are often the most marginalized in society – victims of abuse and violence, runaways, refugees, immigrants or those who are homeless, Beshear said.

“The study by UofL gives law enforcement and advocates clear data to help focus more resources on these populations who fall victim to human trafficking,” Beshear said. “I want to thank the researchers and staff at UofL for their hard work to provide this critical data.”

Beshear said UofL’s study confirms the trend investigators in his Cyber Crimes Unit are seeing – the use of technology in abuse.

The UofL study found that smartphones are a common denominator in a majority of the sex trafficking situations, and Backpage.com, Facebook and Snapchat were most commonly reported as being used to recruit victims and sell them to buyers.

In 2016, Beshear’s office arrested more online child predators than any year in the history of the office. The number of arrests, indictments and convictions totaled nearly 80. His cyber crime investigators assist with the forensic review of technology on many local human trafficking cases.

To learn more about human trafficking and efforts to fight it, visit Catholic Charities of Louisville Rescue and Restore program website at http://www.rescueandrestoreky.org, or contact the Attorney General’s Office of Child Abuse and Exploitation Prevention at 502-696-5300.The national hotline is 888-373-7888.

 

To read original press release, visit the website of the Kentucky Attorney General.

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