New reports are shedding light on how common trafficking is among homeless youth around the country.

According to studies from The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Loyola University
Modern Slavery Research Project, nearly 20 percent of homeless kids have been victims of trafficking.

That number includes sex and labor trafficking.

YOTO’s Program Manager Daniela Zasa said it is a problem they often see in Tucson.

“It is something that they [homeless teens] don’t often tell us,” Zasa said. “They have huge stigma, already coming from homeless…this is another label they don’t feel comfortable talking about.”

To help them get on their feet, YOTO gives homeless teens food and supplies. Just last month, some of that was stolen.

Zasa said thieves stole about 1,000 pounds worth of food, but the community came together to donate more than 11,000 pounds to replace it. She said it is more than enough to get them through the summer and keep them from resorting to desperate measures.

“We have students who have been trafficked, who have gone into sex trafficking because they felt like they didn’t have any other choice,” she said. “They are trying to make ends meet.”

YOTO is still asking for hygiene items. If you’d to help, you can drop them off at 1660 N. Alvernon Way.

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