Study on sex crimes based on questionable methodology – Part 1

A study on the growth of juvenile prostitution that was used at a Congressional hearing to inform members of the subcommittee of the House Judiciary in September may be flawed. The study released by the Women’s Funding Network tracked the growth of juvenile prostitution and found the sex crime had risen exponentially in three diverse states. Those states were Minnesota, New York and Michigan. Further research has been conducted on the study and according to various university researchers the data behind the study is flawed. Over the next two posts we will discuss the study and the research that examined the study’s data.

According to the research released by Women’s Funding Network the trafficking of underage girls increased dramatically in Minnesota, New York and Michigan over the six month time period the study reviewed. In New York, underage sex trafficking increased by almost 21 percent. In Michigan, it increased by 39.2 percent, and in Minnesota it increased by almost 65 percent. According to a sociologist at the University of Minnesota who teaches research methodology, the study is fundamentally flawed.

The sociologist says the study would never appear in a peer-reviewed journal because there are too many unanswered questions regarding the methodology. The chairman of the Anthropology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York agrees. The professor conducted a study on juvenile prostitution in 2008 and says he would not trust the numbers used in the study. In fact, one of the groups that initiated the study admits as much and says the accurate language from the study did not fit well in their marketing effort.

A consortium of three nonprofits hired a business consulting group to conduct the study. The business consulting group had never conducted a prostitution study and members of the group were not academic researchers. The group devised a method to track the growth of underage prostitution by tracking the number of young-looking women on online classified sites. Next time we will further explore the methodology used in the business consulting group’s study.

Source: Westword, “Women’s Funding Network sex-trafficking study is junk science,” Nick Pinto, 3/24/11

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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