Hundreds of Children are Being Trafficked for Sex in Portland
U.S. Attorney’s Office-Commissioned Study, Conducted by Portland State University, Documents Widespread Victimization of Children in the Portland Metro Area
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 05, 2013|
PORTLAND, OR—Today, 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.”
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 was 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 and SARC.
- The average age at which victims were referred to DHS or SARC was 15.5. The youngest victim in the system was 8.1
- 96 percent of victims are female, close to 3 percent are male, and approximately 1 percent are transgender.
- 40.51 percent of victims are Caucasian, 27.08 percent are African American, and 5.12 percent are Hispanic.2
- 16.62 percent have had a baby.
- 50.85 percent 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 12 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 percent of Multnomah County’s population (2 percent of the state population).