Thousands of Texas children attend public schools within 1,000 feet of suspected illicit massage businesses including more than 11,000 in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties, according to a new study released by Children At Risk.
Children At Risk, a Houston-based educational advocacy organization, identified 689 suspected illicit massage businesses in Texas using data scraped from an online website for massage businesses in which users post reviews that include sexually explicit acts received at businesses.
The businesses, which often operate without state licensing, draw other types of criminal activity such as human trafficking, said Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk, in a news release.
He said the issue is a school safety one that calls on parents to address with school boards, city leaders and law enforcement.
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"Thousands of Texas children walk by these hotbeds of sex trafficking everyday on their way to school," said Sanborn. "The women trapped in these places are forced to provide sexual services to as many as 10 men a day. We cannot ignore this problem any longer."
Researchers said the map allows parents and communities to better police the issue of illegal massage parlors in their neighborhoods.
Charlotte Carlisle, managing director of Children At Risk for North Texas, said the study also reveals questionable businesses scattered throughout suburban areas, including Arlington, Richland Hills and Benbrook.
"These are not just outwardly seedy establishments," Carlisle said, adding: "Sometimes you can tell by driving by and sometimes you cannot."
The interactive map became available for public use online Tuesday.
The study's Dallas County results were the subject of a news conference Tuesday morning in Dallas. The study mapped seven schools in Dallas County within 1,000 feet of a questionable massage business.
There are a total of 55 schools in Texas within 1,000 feet of such businesses, the study states. Additionally, mapping reveals that these businesses are often scattered in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods.
Children At Risk identified 52 suspected illegal massage businesses in Tarrant County. Some of these are within 1,000 feet of a public school. Two of these alleged businesses are located within 1,000 feet of public schools — Jack Binion Elementary in Richland Hills and an educational facility operated by the Fort Worth school district at the county's juvenile detention center on Kimbo Road.
There are four Fort Worth schools within a half-mile of illegal massage parlors: Bonnie Brae Elementary, Charles Nash Elementary, Springdale Elementary and Leonard Middle School.
In Arlington, several schools were located near questionable massage businesses, including International Leadership of Texas High School. That campus is a public charter school located in the 4900 block of South Bowen Road. To check a school's proximity to a questionable massage business go to: www.childrenatrisk.org/human trafficking near schools/.