Research to shed light on sex trafficking

by Hannah Beausang

San Diego State will work with local universities to study gang involvement in sex trafficking.
SDSU criminal justice associate professor Dana Nurge will team up with professor of cultural anthropology at Point Loma Nazarene University Jamie Gates and University of San Diego assistant professor of peace studies Ami Carpenter to study sex trafficking. The research will be funded by a $400,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice.
The study, which will be called “Measuring the Extent and Nature of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region,” will examine the connection between gangs and sex trafficking in the local area to understand the issue and scope of sex trafficking.
The team members will work together to combine their areas of expertise to approach the issue from all angles.
“We decided that it makes sense to collaborate,” Nurge said. “We have very different but related backgrounds. It all fits.”
Nurges said, San Diego is part of the top eight hotspot cities nationwide for sex trafficking. The team hopes its research will shed light on the nature and reality of the issue in the area.
The team received the grant and made an outline of its strategies, but is still formulating some of the details for the project.
The team will also receive cooperation from local law enforcement agencies and social service organizations as well as schools. With the collaboration and range of sources and information, the team will be able to comprehensively analyze the data.
Gates said one of the prime sources of data will be collected from perpetrators, people who have been related to gangs, people who are involved in trafficking, the team will report on discovered patterns and information highlighting key parts of the issue.
The research will give the team a better understanding of sex trafficking in the San Diego area. The team hopes to find out in-depth details that will provide new insight.
“There are very few large-scale empirical studies that help us to understand the dynamic of this phenomenon, so it’s a hard reality to measure,” Gates said. “There’s a large concern about the issue, but we know little about what’s going on because it’s a clandestine activity.”
The team anticipates the methods of data collection could be replicated in other research. The methods used in the study will be publicly accessible so they can be utilized for other studies of similar nature.
The team will recruit undergraduate and graduate research assistants from the three universities to help with the data collection and analysis process.