Date of this Version
6th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 9-11, 2014
Backpage.com and Craigslist are replacing the street corner as a crime source for buying and selling of sex. “To reduce commercial sexual exploitation and enforce existing trafficking laws, communities must first recognize the extent of the problem within their local area (Janson, Mann, Marro, & Matvey, 2013, 99). In a population density study conducted in 15 major U. S. cities, it was found that males over 18 years of age who buy sex online ranged from 0.6% in San Francisco to 21.4% in Houston (Roe-Sepoqitz, Hickle, Gallagher, Smith, & Hedberg, 2013). Researchers in the Greater Cincinnati area found a high demand for online sex trafficking relative to the interstate highway system in the region (The Imagine Foundation, 2014). A survey of Kentucky professionals with at-risk youth found that 33% of traffickers used Craigslist or social media for recruiting (Cole & Anderson, 2013). This current study asks the question: “To what extent does online consumer sex trafficking exist in the Louisville and Lexington Kentucky area?” From June 2013 through May 31, 2014, graduate students at the University of Louisville conducted a daily review of the backpage.com advertisements for components of sex trafficking. In particular the links for Louisville and Lexington Kentucky were examined. The Kentucky Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking Task Force supported the study. A qualitative content analysis was conducted of verbiage. Photos were examined. The advertisements were also scanned for upcoming major events such as: The Street Hot Rod Nationals, The Governor’s Local Issues Conference, The Kentucky State Fair, The Livestock Expo, the Farm Machinery Show, and the Kentucky Derby. Major takeaways include an understanding to raise awareness that online sex trafficking exists in mid-size cities and related highway corridors, assistance of community leaders is needed, training of law enforcement is imperative, and resources for victims are essential.
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