National Runaway Prevention Month: Homeless Youth and Trafficking

Young people on the street.

In the past, Tumbleweed Runaway Program’s drop-in center in Billings, Montana had to close early in the evening, leaving youth to find another place to stay for the night.

“As they would exit the building, you could see on some of the street corners, cars waiting … inside these cars, at times, were people waiting to prey on the vulnerable youth leaving our building,” said Georgia Cady, a program manager at Tumbleweed.

Youth can now stay at the FYSB grantee’s drop-in center overnight, five days a week, but the dangers that await runaway and homeless youth still persist.

For the second week of National Runaway Prevention Month, NCFY joins the National Runaway Safeline to highlight the connection between runaway and homeless youth and trafficking.

A 2013 study by the Institute of Medicine found that homelessness is the largest risk factor for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking among minors. Youth with poor family connections, involvement in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, and histories of abuse and neglect at home were also at increased risk.

Youth who have been trafficked need an honest, nonjudgmental listener, mental health services, assistance navigating the legal system, and a host of supplementary services, in addition to those typically utilized for runaway and homeless youth.

Service providers are in a unique position to identify and support youth who have been trafficked. Visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center to find information, resources, and connect with anti-trafficking services in your area.

Check back over the next few weeks for more runaway prevention topics and resources.
November 14: System-involved youth
November 21: LGBTQ Youth

More on Runaway Youth and Abuse
Bought and Sold: Recognizing and Assisting Youth Victims of Domestic Sex Trafficking
New Partners in the Fight Against Trafficking
NCFY Voices: Serving Trafficked Youth
New Anti-Trafficking Guide Helps Schools Become Safe Havens

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