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400 Portland kids trapped in human trafficking

September 3, 2013

District-Attroney-Oregon-USU.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall

U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall and Portland State University released the findings of a research study documenting that at least 469 children were the victims of sex trafficking in the last four years.

The Portland State University (PSU) study was sought by the United States Attorney’s Office and conducted in partnership with the Department of Human Services Child Welfare (DHS) and the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC), in order to quantify the scope of child sex trafficking in the Portland area and provide data to guide intervention and services for these children.

“The results of the PSU study are truly shocking,” said U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall.  “The data confirms that we have a devastating epidemic of child sex trafficking within our community – an epidemic that demands action.”

To see a copy of the report, click here.

To see local news coverage, click KGW, KATU, KOIN, Oregonlive

Christopher Carey, PhD, JD of Portland State University and Lena Teplitsky, Portland State MPH Candidate collected quantitative and qualitative data on documented Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) cases in the Portland Metro Area between December 2012 and June 2013.

What we found:

  • At least 469 children were trafficked for sex in the Portland Metro Area in the last four years.  This number represents CSEC victims served by DHS & SARC.
  • The average age at which victims were referred to DHS or SARC was 15.5.  The youngest victim in the system was 8. (See footnote 1)
  • 96% of victims are female, close to 3% are male, and approximately 1% are transgender.
  • 40.51% of victims are Caucasian, 27.08% are African American, and 5.12% are Hispanic. (See footnote 2)
  • 16.62% have had a baby.
  • 50.85% of active CSEC cases served by SARC have a gang connection.

Given the covert nature of CSEC, cases are widely underreported.  As a result, the findings in this report are very conservative.  Collecting standardized data for victims is also difficult due to the highly-sensitive nature of the information, as well as the perceived danger that may result from disclosure.  The data utilized for this study came exclusively from DHS and SARC, as law enforcement data has not been standardized to date.

“By quantifying the problem we are giving policy makers, social service providers, and other stakeholders the data they need to respond to the needs of these children,” noted U.S. Attorney Marshall.  “My office works hand-in-hand with the FBI’s Child Sexual Exploitation Task Force, and other state and local partners, to aggressively prosecute sex trafficking cases.  We currently have twelve open cases against pimps and we recently indicted a john on federal charges.  Still, for every indictment, there are dozens of cases we cannot bring because the child who was trafficked is back on the street – and to solve that problem we need to find and provide safe and secure placements for these kids.”

1 These age figures reflect age at first referral to a support agency, not age at which exploitation began to occur.

2 African Americans make up 5.8% of Multnomah County’s population (2% of the state population).

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Discuss this article

Kathryn Elich September 4, 2013

Wish I was able to help these young people be identified and saved. I can pray but I hurt to know this is going on right now – as I type.

Also children in incarceration or bad foster care or institutions who have no voice – who’s seeing about those young people?

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