Youth engagement in sex-trade activities leads to a significant demand on public resources absorbed into the treatment of drug and alcohol addictions, the criminal justice and health systems, income assistance, and housing support. Based on interviews with transitioned sex-trade workers, we estimate a series of fiscal cost comparisons on the demand for public services over the period of engagement in sex-trade activities and following the transition into mainstream society. The findings of this study reveal that the government easily recoups its annual funding to a prevention strategy designed to dissuade entry into this lifestyle, if even a few youth are prevented from engaging in prostitution. Given the fact that there are approximately 400-600 street-based youth sex-trade workers in the City of Winnipeg, these cost assessments have implications of paramount importance for evaluating the priorities of public policy on investments in prevention programs.
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