Methods: Internet searches and snowball sampling were used to identify U.S. programs focused on educating youth about sex trafficking. Programs were subsequently contacted to verify contact information and identify the most appropriate representatives for the survey. The survey was developed by the research team and revised based on expert feedback and then pilot tested by individuals who are representative of the study’s sampling frame. Program representatives were invited to participate based on their knowledge about program development, program content and program evaluation. Representatives were invited to complete a web-based survey regarding program content, structure, delivery and prior program evaluations. The response rate was 76% (n=37). Data were analyzed descriptively.
Results: Over 90% of programs reported content focused on the dynamics of sex trafficking, tactics used to recruit victims, what to do when sex trafficking is suspected, and early warning signs of sex trafficking. School classrooms were the most commonly reported program setting (85%), followed by settings such as after-school programs, youth groups, high-risk youth settings, and faith-based programs. Most programs reported that content was appropriate for high-risk youth (e.g., foster care=88%, alternative schools=88%, group homes=84%, and juvenile justice=78%). Some programs reported having been evaluated by either a process evaluation (12%), outcome evaluation (12%) or both (41%).
Conclusion and Implications:These findings provide a useful overview of programs across the U.S. that educate youth about sex trafficking. It is particularly promising that the majority of program services are offered in school settings. Schools are a valuable venue for educating youth about sex trafficking, given that students spend a substantial amount of time in schools and traffickers commonly target youth in these settings. It is also notable that the content of most programs are appropriate for high-risk youth. Runaway youth and youth in foster care, juvenile justice centers and other high-risk settings are disproportionately impacted by sex trafficking, highlighting the urgency of preventing these minors from being targeted through education efforts. Finally, findings point to the need for more research on the effectiveness of programs that educate youth on trafficking.