January, 2011A new study released today by Dallas Women's Foundation shows that the sex trafficking of young girls is not an isolated phenomenon, but a widespread criminal activity in Texas. "Adolescent Girls in the Texas Sex Trade," a statewide study of the commercial sexual exploitation of girls, documents that hundreds of girls under age 18 are being sold for sex in Texas, either online or through escort services during a one-month period. The report is the first to quantify domestic trafficking of girls in Texas and is part of a multi-year tracking study.
"No one wants to think their daughter could be a victim of sex trafficking, but it is happening to our children every day in communities large and small across Texas," said Becky Sykes, President and CEO of Dallas Women's Foundation. "This study will help shine a light on an issue that has remained in the dark too long so that, as a community, Texas can better understand, address and prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of girls."
Key findings from the research include:
Research using the same methodology has also been conducted in Michigan, Minnesota and New York. Sex trafficking activity of girls in Texas was second to New York (1,089) in the same period, followed by Minnesota (199) and Michigan (148).
Dallas Women's Foundation is partnering with Texas non-profit advocacy group CHILDREN AT RISK to bring attention and action to this significant, but often overlooked, problem in Texas. CHILDREN AT RISK will provide the results of "Adolescent Girls in the Texas Sex Trade" to state legislators and advocate for legislation including some no-net-cost solutions:
"Adolescent Girls in the Texas Sex Trade" counts adolescent girls being actively marketed on the Internet and through escort services using a probability-based, empirical approach. These advertisements are two of the main sources through which buyers find girls. There are no systematic and replicable methodologies to count street-level trafficking activity.
The tracking study "Adolescent Girls in the Texas Sex Trade" was conducted by The Schapiro Group over a 30-day period in November 2010 and will be repeated again this year in February 2011 (including Super Bowl weekend) and August 2011. The Schapiro Group, in conjunction with the Women's Funding Network, has conducted similar ground-breaking research in Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota and New York. Complete results of the Dallas study can be found online at www.DallasWomensFoundation.org/publications.
The Dallas Women's Foundation is also addressing this complex issue by making a $1 million lead gift to help build the Letot Girls' Residential Treatment Center in Dallas, which will be the only residential program in Texas serving trafficking victims and runaways who are at high risk of being exploited by traffickers. With facilities to accommodate 96 girls, it will also be the largest of only a small handful of residential facilities across the nation. The center will be an extension of the programs at the existing Dallas County Letot Center, which currently provides short-term treatment and shelter for girls ages 13-17 and is recognized as a leader in treating high-risk girls and victims.
About Women's Funding Network
As a global network and a movement for social justice, Women's Funding Network accelerates women's leadership and invests in solving critical social problems – from poverty to global security – by bringing together the financial power, influence and voices of more than 160 women's funds. Learn more at www.womensfundingnetwork.org.
About The Schapiro Group
The Schapiro Group is a strategic research and consulting firm based in Atlanta that serves a variety of clients, including corporate, government and nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit www.schapirogroup.com.
About the Dallas Women's Foundation
The Dallas Women's Foundation strengthens the entire community by increasing the investment in women and girls and empowering women's philanthropy. The Foundation demonstrates its impact on the status of women and girls through gender-specific research, targeted grant making and philanthropic education. One of the largest and oldest of the 160 women's funds worldwide, Dallas Women's Foundation has invested more than $15 million in nearly 1,000 programs, assisting a million women and girls. For information, visit www.DallasWomensFoundation.org.