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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                    

The United States of America (USA)

The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $48,000. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace.

The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits.

Description: Description: USA

Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households.

Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the United States.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


America's Forgotten Children - Homeless and Street Youth

Andreana Reeves, Stanford University

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 9 August 2011]

The average age of a homeless person in the United States is nine, and there are many kids below the age of nine on the streets, some with their families but most trying to survive on their own.  Currently there are 1.3 million homeless and runaway street kids in the United States, not counting children who were forced out of their homes, abandoned by the foster care system, or are part of a homeless family.

Street Children

May 31st, 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 9 August 2011]

What America needs is to adopt a different drug policy. In Switzerland, the government opened up medical clinics to help drug addicts. These clinics would supply drug addicts with limited amounts of narcotics if you met the requirements. One of these requirements was that you had to stay out of jail while undergoing the treatment.

It might be shocking at first to consider the government supplying people with drugs, but once you think about it, it’s very logical! It’s much healthier, because you don’t have to worry about drug overdoses or injuries from puncturing the wrong veins if a medical professional is doing it for you. There’s a dramatic decrease in crime because if you are jailed, you are immediately taken off the free treatment and you have to hustle for drugs. Employment increases because these clinics also offer help in finding jobs. But most importantly, you decrease drug users, because you put drug dealers out of business (since the treatment is free) and the patients often want to take the next step to rehabilitation.

This drug policy is much cheaper than the drug policy that the United States has adopted and it has great results. Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and drugs aren’t a problem.

Invisible Child - Girl in the Shadows: Dasani's Homeless Life

Andrea Elliott, New York Times, 2013

[accessed 9 Dec 2013]

She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets. A few feet away, their mother and father sleep near the mop bucket they use as a toilet. Two other children share a mattress by the rotting wall where the mice live, opposite the baby, whose crib is warmed by a hair dryer perched on a milk crate.

Dasani’s own neighborhood, Fort Greene, is now one of gentrification’s gems. Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.

It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Runaways - Where To Turn For Help Before You Are Homeless - 1-800-621-4000

Rebeccas Community -- This is for anyone aged up to 13 years old who is thinking about running away

[accessed 9 August 2011]

Here are the best phone numbers to call …They are Confidential - which means they won't tell anyone about your call unless you want them to talk to somebody for you, or you are in danger.  They are open 24 Hours - it doesn't matter what time you call.  In the USA, call 1-800-621-4000


KidsVoice, March 09, 2004

[accessed 9 August 2011]

Most runaway children do not realize the dangers of living on the streets. According to the National Runaway Switchboard, 75% of runaways will become involved in theft, drugs or pornography. One out of every three teens on the street will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.

Homelessness in the United States of America: the causes and the alleviation

Herman Felani Tandjung, Thesis Abstract,

Click [here] to access the article.  Its URL is not displayed because of its length

[accessed 24 March 2015]

Although United States of America is a rich country, many of its citizens still suffer from poverty and homelessness. Homelessness is a form of absolute poverty This research aims to identify the causes and solutions of homelessness in the United States of America.

According to the findings, there are four factors that cause homelessness in the United States of America, i.e. economic, social, cultural, and political factors. The cause of homelessness from economic factor is poverty, from social factors are substance abuse, mental disorder, and domestic violence, from the cultural factor are the American society do not practice extended family system and there are groups of people who hold the culture of poverty, and from the political factor is the inadequacy of social policy made by the government to end homelessness. The solutions to solve the problem of homelessness in the United States of America come from the government and private party. The Government made social policy to handle homelessness with service and income policy and housing policy. The private party gave charity to the homeless by providing food, shelter, and health service. To end homelessness in America, the program should be made for long-term, not only in the form of charity, and should target to the main cause of the homelessness which is poverty.

Uplifting the “Dangerous Classes” - What Charles Loring Brace’s philanthropy can teach us today

Howard Husock, City Journal, vol. 18, no. 1, Winter 2008

[accessed 9 August 2011]

Homelessness, contrary to those who date its inception to the Reagan administration, is nothing new in New York. In June 1872, between 20,000 and 30,000 homeless and vagrant children haunted the city, sleeping not on their grandmothers’ couches—as homelessness is sometimes defined, as a legal matter, today—but actually on the streets. They included newsboys and bootblacks, scrounging to survive; pickpockets working in teams on Christopher, King, and Rivington Streets; and gang members who stole cotton, iron, or baggage from the docks of lower Manhattan. As early as 1852, the city’s prisons held 4,000 criminals under 21.

The scale of what Brace did is stunning, especially for those who believe that only government can undertake large-scale efforts to help the poor. Over its first 27 years, the Children’s Aid Society provided temporary assistance and moral instruction to the 170,000 children who passed through its seven Lodging Houses. It also placed 50,000 orphans and other street children in homes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and other points west, in order to bring them under the “healthy influence of family life.” And it established “21 day schools”—vocational schools for older kids—“and 14 night schools, with an aggregate annual attendance of about 10,000 children.”

The Orphan Trains

American Experience, Public Broadcasting Service PBS

[accessed 9 August 2011]

ABOUT THE PROGRAM - Eighty years ago, Elliot Bobo was taken from his alcoholic father's home, given a small cardboard suitcase, and put on board an "orphan train" bound for Arkansas. Bobo never saw his father again. He was one of tens of thousands of neglected and orphaned children who over a 75-year period were uprooted from the city and sent by train to farming communities to start new lives with new families. Elliot Bobo's remarkable story is part of The Orphan Trains.

2 Honduran, Guatemalan youths are among the lucky few

[Last access date unavailable]

[accessed 14 January 2017]

Herrera said his mother died when he was 2, and he often ran away from home because his alcoholic father hit him almost daily. When he grew older, he said, gangs would beat him and threaten to kill him because he refused to join them.  He went north to escape, Herrera said, and got through Mexico mostly by bus. But his smuggler abandoned him just minutes after guiding him into Texas. Feeling lost, the teen hopped on a bus to Houston and was captured at a Border Patrol checkpoint. After several days in a Border Patrol detention room, Herrera said, he was taken to Southwest Key.

Martinez, who lost his father as an infant, said he roamed the streets aimlessly to avoid his stepfather's painful blows. One day in April 2004, after listening to friends talk about how much people earned in El Norte, Martinez said, he embarked at 16 on his journey north.

Concrete Is Cold And Hard At Night: The Children’s Voices

Jay Shaft, Coalition For Free Thought In Media, Voices Of The Lost And Forgotten - Part Three, 18 May 2005

[accessed 9 August 2011]

RUNAWAY AND DISCARDED CHILDREN - “I work a few hours a day for a guy who doesn’t give a sh.t how old I am. I think he knows I ran away but he needs me to work so he doesn’t say anything. I make enough to stay drunk and high so it’s not so bad. I live in squat with a bunch of other kids and we all go out and panhandle to make extra cash.”

Homegrown sex trafficking; Combat the exploitation of American youth

Marie Smith, The Washington Times, 29-APR-2005

[accessed 11 Aug  2013]

Sex trafficking is known to destroy the lives of women and children internationally, but it is also "homegrown" and devastates the lives of American youth from all economic levels. Summer is fast approaching and with it an increase in the number of children living on the streets at risk for increased commercial sexual exploitation. They live in fear of losing their coping mechanisms (drugs and alcohol), and fear of losing a place to live and food to eat. These children are also ashamed and fear their families will find out what they have been doing. They fear the police and fear being returned home.

Congressional Testimony - Statement of Chris Swecker Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division, FBI

Chris Swecker, Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI, Jun 7, 2005

[accessed 9 August 2011]

Juveniles who become involved in sexual trafficking face a myriad of obstacles and enormous needs if they want to leave that life, including very basic needs such as safe housing, subsistence, and schooling. In addition, they may need drug treatment, medical treatment, and mental health services. They may have problems related to victimization prior to their life on the streets. Most cannot return to their family of origin, so they need help to prepare for independent living.

Why I traded a gala gown for cold concrete

Michelle D. Freeman, The Washington Post, 17 November 2013

[accessed 19 Nov 2013]

I’ll never forget the way the cold pierced through all of my layers straight to my bones.   I felt awful.   I never fell asleep completely.   The noise, the voices of strangers, the thought of rats and all the activity of the night became frightening and I felt exposed.

Here in our nation’s capital, we have one of the highest rates of youth homelessness in the country. According to Covenant House Washington, there are more than 1,600 homeless youth in the District over the course of a given year, far exceeding the 77 beds specifically reserved for them. Child abuse and neglect are the highest in the nation, at almost 30 percent, and nearly two out of three teenagers will not graduate from high school in Wards 7 and 8.

StandUp For Kids - Street Outreach

StandUp For Kids, National Headquarters, 83 Walton Street Suite 500, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, T 800.365.4KID, F 404.954.6610, Email:

[accessed 9 August 2011]

[accessed 14 January 2017]

[accessed 9 October 2017]

WHO NEEDS THE HELP? - A viable street outreach program is not solely concerned with finding homeless kids who are interested in staying in a shelter. While identifying kids, who may require shelter assistance, we must also provide support to those who, for one reason or another; (1) have to live on the streets, (2) aren't ready for more of the establishment, (3) are afraid to go to a shelter, (4) have a police record and fear incarceration or (5) are afraid that they will be sent home.

Ending the quiet tragedy of modern-day slavery

Leland Y. Yee, Assembly Speaker Pro Tem, San Francisco Chronicle, February 17, 2005

[accessed 15 August 2012]

In the past 12 months, immigration agents have raided a number of suspected brothels in quiet San Francisco neighborhoods, exposing a previously unseen tragedy.

Despite shock at how it could happen here, prostitution of youth is sadly all too common in our community and, in fact, often involves children as young as 9 years old. Child prostitution is a devastating problem that few people want to talk about. The fact remains that rarely do child prostitutes begin selling their bodies on their own. Many are coerced into the lifestyle and forced into virtual slavery by traffickers and pimps. According to the advocacy organization Standing Against Global Exploitation, 85 percent of child prostitutes previously suffered incest, rape or abuse at home, and are often singled out by pimps because they are runaways. – htsccp

Teen prostitution is also a suburban problem, says former Minneapolis mayor Hofstede

T.W. Budig, Capitol Roundup, 4 November 1999

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 9 August 2011]

The most vulnerable category of children susceptible to becoming involved in prostitution are runaway or homeless youths, the report notes.  A child is usually approached by a person willing to pay for sex within 36 to 48 hours of the child being on the street, the report states.

While a 1997 Wilder Research Center study estimated that there are some 730 homeless youth s in Minnesota on any given night, other social agencies put the figure much higher ó as high as 2000 to 3000.

Children of the Night

Children of the Night

[accessed 9 August 2011]

[accessed 14 January 2017]

WE’RE HERE TO HELP - Children of the Night is dedicated to assisting children between the ages of 11 and 17 who are forced to prostitute on the streets for food and a place to sleep.

YouthCare - Youth Stories


[accessed 9 August 2011]

[accessed 14 January 2017]

There are close to 1,000 homeless youth in Seattle every night. They sleep in cars, abandoned buildings, under bridges and on friend’s couches. These young people are often homeless because the streets are safer than home. Many have been abused and abandoned. Their stories are tragic. Once on the streets, kids have few resources to find food, clothing and shelter for survival. Without proper resources youth are more likely to turn to destructive behaviors, such as crime, prostitution and drugs.

100 Reasons to Move Beyond the Street

Larkin Street Youth Services

[accessed 9 August 2011]

[accessed 14 January 2017]

Every young person deserves a roof over their head and a safe place to call home. Unfortunately, there are far too many of our youth who—through no fault of their own—are without homes and without safe places to live and learn.  In San Francisco alone, there are some 4,000 homeless and runaway kids on the street each year.

Homeless Kids Find Shelter at Covenant House

Covenant House

[accessed 9 August 2011]

[accessed 9 October 2017]

Covenant House International is the largest privately-funded agency in the Americas providing shelter and other services to homeless, runaway and throwaway youth.

In addition to food, shelter, clothing and immediate crisis care, Covenant House provides a variety of services to homeless, runaway and throwaway youth including medical care, educational and vocational programs, drug abuse treatment and prevention programs, legal aid services, recreation programs, mother/child programs, transitional living programs, life-skills training and street outreach.

The Covenant House NINELINE (1-800-999-9999 / received and immediately responded to more than 48,000 crisis calls from youngsters all over the United States who needed immediate help and had nowhere else to turn. Acercatel, the Covenant House 24-hour national crisis hotline in Mexico, received and responded to more than 13,000 crisis calls.

The Sexual Exploitation of Children - A Working Guide to the Empirical Literature [PDF]

Richard J. Estes, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work, Center for Youth Policy Studies, August 2001

[accessed 9 August 2011]

[accessed 14 January 2017]


1. Prevalence  2. Causes/Risk Factors Associated With Running Away  3. Social and Health Risks of Runaway & Street Youth--Including Sexually Exploited Youth  4. Gangs and Gang Culture Among Runaway/Street Youth   5. Homeless Youth  -  sccp

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - USA",, [accessed <date>]