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Teen Prostitution in the San Diego Region

Researchers estimate that there are 200,000 to 300,000 sexually exploited youth in the United States who tend to be concentrated in communities near or bordering Mexico. The youth who are most vulnerable to exploitation are homeless, thrownaway, and runaway youth: approximately 55 percent of homeless or runaway youth engage in formal prostitution. While engaged in prostitution, youth are vulnerable to violence at the hands of pimps and solicitors, rape and assault, exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, and substance abuse.

In 2006, the ACTION Network (Against Child Trafficking and The Prostitution of Teens in Our Neighborhoods) received funding from The California Endowment and contracted with SANDAG to conduct a community assessment on child and youth sexual exploitation. Interviews with 200 homeless and runaway youth, as well as key informants and businesses in high prostitution areas, revealed that one in three youth had been sexually exploited, one in five had been approached to engage in prostitution, and that there was perception that this was a serious issue for San Diego. An overview of these findings and subsequent recommendations are summarized in the report below.

Project Manager

Dr. Cynthia Burke, Director, Research and Program Management
Phone: (619) 699-1910, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or