Some Youth Are More at Risk

Young person standing against a brick wall.

Victims come from cities, suburbs and small towns across the country, from all races, ethnic groups and walks of life. Still, certain young people are more likely to be victimized:

  • Girls (though the proportion of boys who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation is growing)
  • Youth with a history of abuse and neglect at home
  • Runaway, throwaway and homeless youth

It’s that final group that is particularly at risk. Surviving on their own, runaway and homeless youth— both boys and girls—may be forced to exchange sex for basic needs, like food or housing. One in three young people are approached or recruited by a pimp or exploiter within the first 48 hours of being on the street. According to one study, 70 percent of youth on the street eventually become victims of some form of commercial sexual exploitation, and 30 percent of youth living in shelters also fall victim, some recruited by other residents.

What might count as, or lead to, commercial sexual exploitation of young people, both male and female?

  • Modeling
  • Stripping
  • Escort and massage services
  • Immigrant servitude
  • Prostitution
  • Pornography
  • Survival sex
National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth | 5515 Security Lane, Suite 800 | North Bethesda, MD 20852 | (301) 608-8098 | ncfy@acf.hhs.gov