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Register for a free to start saving and receiving special member only perks. Identifying risk factors for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors is necessary to understand the etiology of these problems and to inform interventions for preventing and addressing them. Understanding the various short- and long-term consequences of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors also is necessary to guide future prevention and intervention strategies. This chapter describes what is known about individual, family, peer, neighborhood, and systems-level risk factors associated with victims and offenders of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
In addition, to clarify the impact of these crimes, the chapter describes what is known about their physical, emotional, and behavioral health consequences, as well as their developmental, social, health, and legal implications.
Because the existing evidence base for these subjects is extremely limited, the discussion draws heavily on related research literatures e. Finally, this chapter aims to connect the dots between these sources of evidence to provide guidance for future research efforts on commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States.
Commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors are multiply determined with causes at several levels, ranging from individual characteristics to family, peer, and neighborhood factors. Community and. Adding to this complexity, each of these factors interacts within and across levels to increase risk or protection. Because of the multiple forces involved, prevention and intervention efforts targeting only single risks may have limited utility.
Moreover, a comprehensive understanding of risk factors for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors requires awareness that the processes associated with these problems, from beginning to end, are dynamic see Figure The ecological model depicted in Figure highlights the complex and interconnected forces that contribute to initial and continued commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
It should be noted, however, that the factors included in this schematic are likely only a subset of the risk factors for these problems.
Moreover, some of those factors may be necessary but not sufficient contributors to the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. For example, the presence of risk factors would not result in the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors without the presence of an exploiter or trafficker. Of note, the contributing and maintaining factors depicted in Figure may function independently or in combination.
In addition, risk factors in one sphere may trigger a cascade of effects or initiate pathways into or out of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.
Because many of the factors in Figure also may be risks for other types of adverse youth outcomes, readers are cautioned not to assume that the presence of any single risk factor necessarily als commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Instead, the presence of one or more of these factors should be considered as part of a more comprehensive assessment to determine youth at risk of or involved in commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Each domain included in Figure is detailed in the following sections.
FIGURE Ecological model adapted to illustrate the possible risk factors for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
Child maltreatment Child neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse are commonly thought to be risk factors for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors Dalla et al. Support for this perspective originates in studies reporting that youth identify the sexual abuse they experienced as as a major influence on their becoming involved in commercial sexual exploitation.
For example, 70 percent of the subjects in a U. Silbert and Pines found that 78 percent of the San Francisco prostitutes in their sample were prostituted as juveniles.
In that study, the majority of those interviewed were under age 21, and one subject was only 10 years old. Sixty percent of the sample reported that they had been or were being sexually exploited; 67 percent reported sexual abuse during their childhood by a father figure 33 percent by their biological father28 percent by a brother, and 31 percent by friends of the family.
In 82 percent of the episodes of abuse, some sort of force was used. In one of the few prospective studies on this subject, Widom and Kuhns examined the relationship between childhood maltreatment and promiscuity, prostitution, and teen pregnancy. The study used a prospective cohort de in which victims of child maltreatment were matched with nonabused children and followed into adulthood.
Child neglect and sexual abuse were found to be associated with later prostitution among females.
In another prospective study, Wilson and Widomp. On the other hand, Nadon and colleagues compared a sample of 45 female adolescents involved in prostitution and recruited from service organizations in areas known for prostitution.
Surprisingly, the adolescents involved and not involved in prostitution did not differ in terms of child sexual abuse: rates of child sexual abuse were similar in the two groups, as were the circumstances surrounding the abuse, including the relationships between perpetrators and victims.
Notably, the commercially sexually exploited youth had ificantly higher rates of running away from home see the discussion of this factor below ; this finding suggests that it may not be the child sexual abuse alone but its consequences that heighten the risk for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
In fact, Jesson and Nadon and colleagues argue that early maltreatment, family dysfunction, and running away are so closely linked that it may well be the running away that puts youth directly at risk.
Thus the literature suggests that there are multiple possible indirect pathways to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. A of researchers have offered explanations for why child maltreatment may create vulnerability to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Stoltz and colleaguesp.
In addition, according to Stoltz and colleaguesvictims of child sexual abuse may have the tendency to engage in risk-taking behaviors i. While suggesting that child sexual abuse creates a susceptibility to becoming involved in trading sex, the authors emphasize that the abuse does not cause commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.
Rather, they posit that the abuse is one component of a generally traumatic negative developmental experience that may weaken resiliency. Similarly, Steel and Herlitz suggest a possible pathway from child sexual abuse to sexual risk behavior, with psychological symptoms such as depressive mood, poor self-esteem, lack of assertiveness, poor self-worth, and posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD leading to future risk behavior Stein et al.
Noll and colleagues suggest that stigma associated with child sexual abuse may make it difficult for victims to experience nonsexual or emotional rewards from relationships, thereby making victims more likely to engage in risk behaviors and more vulnerable to sexual exploitation Lalor and McElvaney, ; Stoltz et al. According to several researchers, victims of child sexual abuse may experience poor affect regulation i. Cloitre et al. These outcomes can result in a of negative consequences for victims of such abuse later in life.
For example, victims may engage in emotional avoidance behaviors such as self-harm and substance abuse Lalor and McElvaney, Taken together, these propositions highlight emotional and behavioral consequences of child sexual abuse that are associated with commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, suggesting mechanisms that may link child abuse to these crimes.
In support of the above propositions regarding the indirect pathways through which child maltreatment increases the risk for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, ample evidence documents associations between child sexual abuse and outcomes that have been linked with these crimes. For example, victims of child sexual abuse may begin to engage in sexual activity at earlier ages than nonvictims Fergusson et al.
Earlier onset of consensual sexual activity is in turn associated with increased risk for truancy, dropping out of school, and running away, as well as for gang membership Unger et al. Several studies have found that sexually abused adolescents are likely to have higher levels of alcohol and drug abuse, risky sexual behaviors, depression, trauma, anxiety, and suicidality, as well as poorer sense of self Negrao et al.
In older adolescents, child abuse has been found to be associated with heightened Backpage Escorts Hidden Springs ID risk taking and heightened risks for other adverse behavioral outcomes Fergusson et al. According to Kelley and colleaguesadolescents with a history of child maltreatment were at least 25 percent more likely to experience problems with juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, low academic achievement, drug use, and symptoms of poor mental health than those without such a history, which together could increase the risk for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
Few studies have examined indirect pathways between child maltreatment, hypothesized mechanisms, and commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in prospective studies. One exception is the work of Wilson and Widomwho explored whether behavioral sequelae of child maltreatment i.
Each type of child maltreatment i. Initiation of sexual behavior before age 15 emerged as the strongest link between child maltreatment and later prostitution.
Other possible mediating factors e. While the above studies suggest that child maltreatment, particularly child sexual abuse, may be associated with commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, it should be noted that findings of the few prospective studies available suggest that only an extremely small proportion of children who are sexually abused subsequently become involved in trading sex for money or something of value Lalor and McElvaney, ; Lamont, For example, while Flowersp.
This finding does not suggest a strong predisposition to involvement in prostitution among victims of child maltreatment. Moreover, while child maltreatment, and child sexual abuse in particular, appears to increase the risk for later high-risk behaviors and revictimization for some children and adolescents, this is not the case for all victims of child maltreatment.
Reasons for such resilience after experiencing child maltreatment are unknown, as studies indicating what may make some victims of child abuse more or less resilient are lacking. In addition to a limited understanding of factors associated with resilience in victims of child sexual abuse, several factors limit understanding of the overall impact of child maltreatment on the risk for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
In many studies, the timing of involvement in prostitution is unclear, nor is it possible to distinguish between prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Moreover, studies have examined associations between child sexual abuse and later engagement in high-risk sexual behavior, including having multiple sexual partners, engaging in commercial sex work, and being sexually promiscuous; however, methodological issues—such as sam.
Other methodological problems include failure of most studies to distinguish among different types of maltreatment, as well as vast differences in definitions of abuse, differences in methodologies for identifying abuse, and the fact that most studies fail to measure the intensity and duration of the abuse or the relationship between perpetrator s and victim Briere, ; Hastings and Kelley, ; Hulme, ; Kelley et al.
These types of problems limit the ability to make comparisons across studies with regard to type of abuse, prevalence, and sequelae, in turn making it difficult to determine the risks associated with each form of abuse. Furthermore, Lalor and McElvaney report that nonresponse rates of 30 percent are common in surveys on abuse, calling into question the generalizability of the responses of the 70 percent of people who typically agree to participate.
In attempting to establish associations between child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, moreover, it is important to recognize that, like other forms of abuse, child sexual abuse is an extremely complex phenomenon Hulme, The individual experiences of victims, including the of incidents, the age at onset, the frequency and duration of the abuse, and the relationship between perpetrator s and victim, vary greatly Hulme, In some cases, the boundaries between child abuse and commercial sexual exploitation are blurred, as when a parent or other family member coaches to be sexually involved in return for money Saphira, Despite these methodological concerns, because commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors are extreme forms of child sexual abuse, it is widely assumed that their victims will exhibit behaviors similar to those of victims of child sexual abuse.
However, additional prospective, longitudinal research is needed to demonstrate more explicitly whether causal links exist between child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Disrupted transitions can be defined as life events that either interrupt normative developmental patterns or occur prematurely.
Similarly, earlier oc.
Explanations for this association include the greater stress experienced by early maturers, the short-circuiting of certain developmental tasks of early adolescence, and the greater social pressure to which early developers may be exposed Tschann et al. Wickrama and Baltimorep. Research has not yet focused on early transitions as predictive of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
However, a of studies have identified adolescent life experiences that may be potential precursors to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of children and adolescents. Regardless of race or class, Backpage Escorts Hidden Springs ID example, those who become involved in the commercial sex trade both juveniles and adults are more likely to have a history of parental abuse and neglect, incest, rape, interrupted school activity including early dropoutrunning away, and early sexual experiences including early first intercourse Adlaf and Zdanowicz, ; Bracey, ; Chesney-Lind and Shelden, ; Gibson-Ainyette et al.
It should be noted, however, that most studies of victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking are based on retrospective reports, which are subject to errors of memory and are not verifiable; the result may be underreporting or overreporting of experiences such as sexual abuse and other maltreatment Hulme and Agrawal, Additionally, associations between childhood experiences and commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors do not necessarily indicate a causal link; other factors may for the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
Thus, care must be taken in concluding which, if any, of these factors may be predictive of involvement in these crimes. Runaway, thrown-away, and homeless youth Of the many factors that may increase vulnerability to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, especially among adolescents, homelessness is widely considered the most direct contributor Estes and Weiner,