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A Cross-Sectional Exploration of the Complexity and Scope of Sex Trafficking From a Sample of Homelessness Youths at Covenant House Florida


The topic area of my intended research involves social work services and their implications on the sex-trafficked youth population. Specifically, the prevalence of sex trafficking and victimization, especially among youths and adolescents has significantly grown within the past decade across the United States as shown by previous research conducted by Franchino-Olsen et al. (2022). While the US local and federal governments have made efforts to address this concern, the existing policies and strategies for mitigating this challenge are not sufficient given the increasing rise of reports associated with sex trafficking among this vulnerable population. In this context, the proposed research intends to determine the scope and complexity of the issue of sex trafficking among the youths experiencing homelessness across the State of Florida. The proposed research questions for addressing this research objective include the following:

  1. What are the experiences of homeless youths in the state of Florida associated with drug abuse, mental health diagnosis, reasons for homelessness, protective mechanisms and family relationships?
  2. What are the differences between sex-trafficked and non-sex-trafficked homeless youths in terms of demographics, sexual orientations, traumatic childhood experiences, and high-risk behaviours?

These research questions will be addressed by gathering information from a convenient sample of sex-trafficked youths registered at Covenant House Florida. This study site has been selected because the researcher aims at collecting data representative of the entire state and which reflects the experiences of the targeted population in a broader context because the facility registers sex trafficked youths from all regions across the State of Florida. the information will be provided by these youths through answering questions developed using a survey questionnaire tool.

Given the nature of the data collection and the scope of the intended study, it will be essential to ensure the anonymity of the targeted research participants and sort consent before participating in the study. In this context, the research respondents will be assured that their personal information such as names, addresses or contacts will not be shared or used to conduct the intended research. The targeted audience for the intended study involves the social work agencies, human service providers, clinicians, and local and national policymakers responsible for implementing strategies for mitigating the challenge of homelessness, and sex trafficking across the United States and globally.

The researcher has already begun conducting preliminary research about the proposed topic, especially studies that have explored the challenge of sex trafficking and homelessness among the youths both internationally and locally. One of the studies already explored includes previous research conducted by Winiarski et al. (2020) that showed that while many pieces of research have focused on examining the risk factors associated with homelessness and victimization across different geographical regions, little research has been conducted to explore the prevalence rates of sex trafficking of minors across the USA. Another study explored included Hogan and Roe-Sepowitz’s (2023) exploration that employed a cross-sectional purposeful sampling research design aimed at exploring risk factors for homelessness and sex trafficking among the LGBTQ+ youth population. The authors used a YES (Youth Experiences Survey) to gather information for addressing this objective and discovered that some of the most common risk factors for sex trafficking included drug abuse, high-risk behaviours, and challenging life experiences associated with homelessness (Hogan & Roe-Sepowitz, 2023). The findings from the preliminary literature conducted will be essential in guiding my research by informing the methodology and specific variables to use for addressing the proposed research questions.


Franchino-Olsen, H., Chesworth, B. R., Boyle, C., Rizo, C. F., Martin, S. L., Jordan, B., … & Stevens, L. (2022). The prevalence of sex trafficking of children and adolescents in the United States: A scoping review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse23(1), 182-195.

Hogan, K. A., & Roe-Sepowitz, D. (2023). LGBTQ+ homeless young adults and sex trafficking vulnerability. Journal of Human Trafficking9(1), 63-78.

Winiarski, D. A., Rufa, A. K., Bounds, D. T., Glover, A. C., Hill, K. A., & Karnik, N. S. (2020). Assessing and treating complex mental health needs among homeless youth in a shelter-based clinic. BMC health services research20, 1-10. Url:


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