In the Spring of 2018, a team of youth, students, advocates, service providers, and researchers from across metro Atlanta will come together to count and assess the state of sexually trafficked homeless youth in the area. The specific goals of the project are to: 1) provide metro-Atlanta service providers, policymakers, and youth advocates practical information on the size, nature, and needs of the homeless, precariously housed, and runaway youth in our community who are involved in forms of sex trafficking; 2) collect information that can be used to develop and refine policies, programs, and interventions to help these youth in our community; and 3) encourage a community-wide dialogue about the needs and social determinants of youth homeless.
The data will be collected in late winter/early spring 2018. Teams of outreach workers and service providers will work together with student, youth, and other trained volunteers to conduct a sweep of the metro area shelters and other street and community locations where homeless youth spend time and live. The study will utilize sophisticated systematic capture-recapture field sampling methods to locate homeless youth to help ensure that the sample accurately describes the current population of homeless youth in metro Atlanta. All homeless and runaway youth ages 14-25, who do not have a permanent stable residence of their own, and who are living independently without consistent parental or family support will be eligible and encouraged to participate.
Every homeless youth will be invited to complete a brief 15-20-minute survey about their current and past experiences with homelessness and involvement in the sex trade, including factors that led to their becoming homeless. They also will be asked about their personal and social background, health status, and contact with health and social service systems. In order to make the youth feel comfortable and to protect them from potential harm, the data will be collected anonymously. No information will be collected that can used to identify or trace participants. Youth will receive a $10 gift card as a thank you for participating.
All of the data collected will be aggregated, and analyzed by the local university-based, interdisciplinary team of researchers and advanced students. A public report will be released in the late fall of 2018 and disseminated widely to youth and homeless youth advocates, homeless service agencies and shelters, local and state government officials and legislators, and the media. Members of the research team will continue to analyze and use the data to improve public and policymakers’ understanding of youth homelessness and to guide community-efforts to improve services for these young people.
This study has been funded by the National Institute of Justice. This study has been reviewed and is being overseen by the Institutional Review Board at Georgia State University.
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