Texas Tech University

Gender SEAMS Research Team

Gender SEAMS Research Projects


Mapping Sex Trafficking Protocols in Lubbock Hotels

  • Ashton Overbeck, Miriam Lieway, and Elizabeth Sharp

Sex trafficking (defined as a form of modern day slavery where minors are enticed, solicited, forced and coerced into the commercialization of paid sexual encounters) is an exponentially growing problem in the United States. Hotels play a large role in this crime, both as harbors of victims and as the setting where criminal transactions often take place. This issue extends beyond large, urban cities, reaching into suburban environments such as Lubbock, Texas (population = 239,538). Two separate sex trafficking instances have occurred in the past three years: at one Lubbock's most prestigious hotel, and the other at a budget friendly Inn. In response, we are closely examining protocols related to awareness training and mechanisms of handling suspicious behaviors linked to sex trafficking. In this research, we are collecting survey data from a large number of hotel employees in Lubbock and we will conduct qualitative interviews of managers, concierge and housekeepers and other personnel and law enforcement who were directly involved with the prior instances in Lubbock. Not only is it imperative for hotel establishments to be prepared for the fastest growing enterprise of organized crime, law enforcement should also have a universal protocol to recognize warning signs and respond to suspicious behavior. Guided by feminist perspectives, our end goal is to encourage informed legislation and create policy for a nation wide protocol for combating sex trafficking.

Human Development and Family Studies