The trauma of commercial sexual exploitation of youth: A comparison of cse victims to sexual abuse victims in a clinical sample

Jennifer Cole, Ginny Sprang, Robert Lee, Judith Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined the demographic features, trauma profiles, clinical severity indicators, problem behaviors, and service utilization characteristics of youth victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) compared with a matched sample of sexually abused/assaulted youth who were not exploited in commercial sex. Secondary data analysis and propensity score matching were used to select a sample of 215 help-seeking youth who were exploited in prostitution (n = 43) or who were sexually abused/assaulted but not exploited in prostitution (n = 172) from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Core Data Set (NCTSN CDS). Propensity Score Matching was used to select a comparison sample based on age, race, ethnicity, and primary residence. Statistically significant differences were noted between the groups on standardized (e.g., UCLA Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index [PTSD-RI], Child Behavior Checklist [CBCL]) and other measures of emotional and behavioral problems (e.g., avoidance and hyperarousal symptoms, dissociation, truancy, running away, conduct disorder, sexualized behaviors, and substance abuse). This study provides useful insight into the symptom and service utilization profiles of youth exploited in commercial sex as compared with youth with other types of sexually exploitive experiences. Targeted screening and event-sensitive measures are recommended to more accurately identify youth exploited in commercial sex. More research is needed to determine if and what modifications to trauma therapies may be required to address the more severe symptomatology and behavior problems associated with youth exploited in commercial sex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-146
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2014.

Keywords

  • Children
  • Sex trafficking of minors
  • Treatment-seeking
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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