Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking at the University of Nebraska


Date of this Version

Fall 10-10-2013

Document Type



It is general knowledge within the anti-trafficking community that children facing abuse, neglect and parental substance abuse are at the greatest risk for human trafficking. Yet very little research has connected these same abused and neglected children that are currently in foster care with human trafficking. This paper examines the connection between foster care and human trafficking in the United States with special emphasis on sex trafficking. Within the human trafficking literature there is a very large gap regarding foster care and wards of the state. Very little statistical data are available on the prevalence of foster care children involved with sex trafficking but every report used in this research placed the number of children trafficked from foster care well above 50 percent. It is safe to say that minimally half of the victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE) currently on the streets today were at one time living in a foster care home or a group home run by the state. An even more surprising statistic is that 25 percent of the traffickers actively recruiting girls into human trafficking were also part of the foster care system at some point in their childhood. This paper explores the typical childhood experiences of CSEC and finds that it is not very different from the childhood of the traffickers that exploit them. The three different paths taking children and youth from the foster care system to CSEC are explained as well as the four common methods traffickers use to recruit their victims into CSE. Finally, this paper seeks to acquaint readers with what is currently known regarding the extent of human trafficking within the foster care system, who is at risk for becoming a victim, and recommendations for stakeholders interacting with human trafficking victims.

UNL_Presentation--Unholy Alliance.pdf (371 kB)
PDF version of PowerPoint slides