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Human Trafficking in Youth-serving Programs: A Blueprint for Organizations Working with Street Youth, Homeless Youth, and Youth at Risk


This report is designed to assist organizations working with street youth, homeless youth, and youth at risk with strategies for identifying and preventing human trafficking in youth-serving programs. It begins by defining human trafficking and explaining how human trafficking impacts runaway, homeless, and vulnerable youth. Links to research on the intersection between human trafficking and runaway and homeless youth (RHY) are provided. Section 2 reviews common misconceptions about trafficking and runaway and homeless youth, and Section 3 describes strategies used to recruit youth into labor and sex trafficking. Risk and protective factors are described in Section 4, and Section 5 focuses on prevention and intervention. Strategies are explained for safety planning, screening, understanding the needs of youth victims, longer-term interventions, service provider collaborations, and integrating human trafficking prevention into programs. Recommendations are made for what service providers should do if trafficking is suspected, reporting, coordination, and providing survivor-informed services. Section 6 discusses approaches to work with trafficked youth and the benefits of using a trauma-informed approach, victim-centered approach, and strengths-based approaches. The need to develop culturally competent programs is emphasized. The final sections review key components of developing a human trafficking protocol, considers strategies for staff training and relationship building, and provides links to additional resources.