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PSU study: Hundreds of children sexually exploited

A study released Monday found that more than 400 children were the victims of Portland-area sex trafficking in the past four years.

U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden released the study by Portland State University that documented sex trafficking of at least 469 children with an average age of 15. The study was done with Oregon’s Department of Human Services Child Welfare and the Sexual Assault Resource Center in Beaverton.

“The results of the PSU study are truly shocking,” Marshall said. “The data confirms that we have a devastating epidemic of child sex trafficking within our community — an epidemic that demands action.”

Christopher Carey of Portland State University and Lena Teplitsky, a PSU master’s of public health candidate, collected data on documented Portland-area case of commercial sexual exploitation of children between December 2012 and June 2013. They found that of the 469 children who were exploited during the past four years, the youngest was 8 years old; 96 percent of victims are girls, 3 percent are boys and about 1 percent were transgender; most, 40.51 percent, are white, 27.08 percent were African-American and 5.12 percent were Hispanic; at least 16 percent of the victims had a baby; and nearly half of the exploitation cases were linked to gangs.

Marshall said that because most of the child sexual exploitation cases were often under-reported, the numbers were considered “very conservative.”

Marshall said her office had a dozen cases open against pimps accused of exploiting children and the PSU report could provide policymakers with “the data they need to respond to the needs of these children.”

“Still, for every indictment, there are dozens of cases we cannot bring because the child who was trafficked is back on the street,” she said. “And to solve that problem we need to find and provide safe and secure placements for these kids.”