In the United States, it is estimated that up to 3.5 million people experience homelessness per year. Out of that number, about 1.37 million, which is about 39 percent, are children under the age of 18.
The Inquisitr understands the social ramifications homelessness has on society and has reported on the latest news on how the situation is being dealt with. Some ways are positive, like when a church in New York City charged the elite $100 to eat a fancy dinner with homeless people — the funds would go to helping the homeless. Others ways are ridiculous, like how South Carolina wants to combat homelessness by making it illegal.
While all Americans are doing something to help their homeless countrymen, there are still many who are not being reached, sometimes to the point that they are engaging in shocking behavior to get by, known as “survival sex.” What’s worse is the fact that the majority of them are New York City (NYC) teenagers, and they have to do it daily.
The situation was brought to light when Urban Institute interviewed 283 youths in NYC, as reported by RYOT. Through that study, they found a very disheartening trend among the youths — they had to literally prostitute themselves. Not for any pimp, agency, or money, but for a single night of basic living needs, specifically food and shelter. Apparently, one of the major reasons why said NYC homeless teenagers are partaking in “survival sex” is because they lack access to many services and aids meant to help the homeless in general. This includes voluntary and low-threshold services such as short and long-term housing, affordable housing and shelter options, livable-wage employment opportunities, food security, and gender-affirming health care.
However, NYC homeless teenagers using survival sex as a means to get by is nothing new. The problem was originally addressed in an article by the New Yorker. In their report, the subculture of LGBTQ teens were highlighted in their bartering of sexual favors for money, cell phones, cigarettes, and other commodities. This is exampled by numerous testimonies, one of which is from a teenage boy who simply goes by the name Ryan.
“He [Ryan] acquired seven regulars, who came to him on a weekly basis, and nine ‘frequenters,’ who visited him once or twice a month. If the person appeared sane and gentle, he would trade sex for a chance to sleep in a bed. ‘Sometimes I could pretend—I would convince myself—that I was having sex with someone I had chosen,’ he said. In the morning, he would slip out of the apartment before the stranger woke up.”
As mentioned before, the unique sex industry among NYC homeless teenagers is not like the sex trafficking industry, which usually centers around escort agencies and pimps. Many NYC homeless teenagers work together so they all could get by with basic means. This includes sharing information on finding customers and where to stay safe, to more active roles such as online promotions and prospective client “dates.” Though the network is based on helping each other, about 72 percent of them want out. Yet, with the limitations on services, as detailed earlier in this article, getting out of the survival sex industry is a lot easier said than done.
In conclusion, the fact that a generation of homeless teens are subjugating themselves to “survival sex” just to get by shows a major truth underlying beneath the actual act. They are disparaging themselves to the belief there is no hope of getting out of their circumstances, which may often be dangerous.
[Image via Bing]