Prevention of Child Sexual Exploitation: Insights From Adult Survivors

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Social Work


This qualitative retrospective study explores the prevention of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) from the perspectives of adult survivors. These participants represent a subsample (n = 17) of a larger sample of adult female survivors (n = 40) who took part in a research study concerning the influence of childhood emotional maltreatment on the vulnerability of CSEC. Participants learned of the study through CSEC-specific agencies and survivor listservs. All are United States’ citizens over the age of 18 years who were sexually exploited during their youth between the ages of 1 year and 17 years while residing in the United States. Six themes with relevance to vulnerability to recruitment and barriers to prevention emerged after analysis. These themes include difficulty trusting medical and mental health professionals; difficulty trusting law enforcement; protection of family members; self-destructive behaviors; a need for CSEC awareness in educational settings; and a need for CSEC awareness among at-risk youth. Extant literature previously identifies similar themes as areas of vulnerability to recruitment, however, these findings are specifically related to prevention programs. Implications for developing or improving prevention programs are discussed.

Publication Title

Journal of Interpersonal Violence

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