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Children At Risk: 16,000 Students In Harris County Go To School Near Suspected Illicit Massage Parlors

23 schools in Harris County may be near massage parlors offering sexual services

Twenty-three schools and more than 16,000 students in Harris County are within 1000 feet of suspected illicit massage parlors which themselves are concentrated in wealthy neighborhoods, a new study from Children At Risk found.

The group compared maps of schools and the addresses of suspected business which they obtained from a sexually-oriented business review website. 

The study identified 689 total suspected businesses in Texas, 259 of which are in Harris County. Children At Risk said there are fifty-five schools total in the state which are within 1000 feet of one of the businesses. 

Advocacy group Children At Risk identified massage parlors they suspect of providing sexual services across the state. Shown here in red are suspected businesses in Harris County.

“These are primarily white men who have affluence, who have money, and they’re going and they’re buying young women,” said Robert Sanborn, president at Children At Risk. The businesses set up in wealthier neighborhoods because “that’s where the money is,” he said.

County officials said they are trying to put more pressure on clients and landlords that allow massage parlors to operate instead of workers, who are often victims of human trafficking.

They said they’re still charging workers with prostitution, but are trying to offer resources to those they believe have been trafficked.

According to a press release from the City of Houston “the city has taken this problem seriously and used a multi-pronged approach to address this issue.”

“We (the city of Houston) first amended our massage establishment ordinance and trained the Houston Police Department’s differential response team officers who then canvass all locations with outreach cards translated into multiple languages in case the women working there, under coercion or not, decide to seek help. The HPD Vice and DRT canvasses have resulted in a drop from 289 open and advertising locations to 220 open and advertising locations.”

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Davis Land

Davis Land

General Assignments Reporter

Davis Land is a general assignment reporter for Houston Public Media. He cut his teeth at Atlantic Public Media/Transom.org in Woods Hole, MA and at WBUR in Boston. His work has appeared on various public radio programs and podcasts including Texas Standard, Here and Now, and Marketplace. Davis is a...

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