Topic: Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents: Services for Victims
Definition for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents: Services for Victims:
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents: Services for Victims is defined by the CEBC as services for youth aged 17-years-old and younger who have engaged in, solicited for, or been forced to engage in sexual conduct or performance of sexual acts (e.g., stripping) in return for a benefit, such as money, food, drugs, shelter, clothing, gifts, or other goods or for financial or some other gain for a third party. The sexual conduct may include any direct sexual contact or performing any acts, sexual or non-sexual for the sexual gratification of others. These acts can be live, filmed, or photographed and still constitute sexual exploitation. Commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents may include prostitution, pornography, trafficking for sexual purposes, and other forms of sexual exploitation. The youth is treated as a sexual object and as a commercial object. The sexual exploitation of the child may profit a much wider range of people than the immediate beneficiary of the transaction.
When this topic area was posted in Spring 2013, commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents was a crime that had only recently received significant attention in the United States and around the globe. While the U.S. Department of Justice estimated in 2012 that the number of children and adolescents (those under the age of 18) involved in prostitution, child pornography, and trafficking could be anywhere between 100,000 and 3,000,000, knowledge of this type of exploitation and public response to the problem was and is still evolving. There is a growing and compelling literature on domestic sex trafficking of girls in the United States and some about the commercial sexual exploitation of boys as well. Domestically trafficked youth comprise the majority of the victims of commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in the U.S. More informally, survivors of commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents have also begun to speak out about the crime.
- Target population: Youth aged 17-years old and younger who have engaged in, solicited for, or been forced to engage in sexual conduct or performance of sexual acts in return for a benefit
- Services/types that fit: Outpatient, day treatment, and residential services in individual or group formats
- Delivered by: Mental health professionals or trained paraprofessionals
- In order to be included: Program must specifically target youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation
- In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by the Scientific Rating Scale) that examines youth outcomes, such changes in symptom levels, behaviors, and functioning
Programs in this Topic Area
The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.
Nine Programs with a Scientific Rating of NR - Not able to be Rated:
- Children of the Night – non-responderChildren who have been sexually exploited as prostitutes
- Citrus Helping Adolescents Negatively Impacted by Commercial Exploitation (CHANCE)Youth 9 through 18 years of age who have serious mental/behavioral health problems, have been identified by a qualified professional as ...
- Courtney's HouseYouth, ages 12-21 years old who are sex trafficking victims
- GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services) – non-responderGirls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking
- Hope HouseDomestic victims of sex trafficking ages 12-17
- Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting, and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth (MISSSEY) – non-responderCommercially sexually exploited youth 11-18 years of age
- My Life My ChoiceGirls ages 12-18 who have been exploited or are at high risk of being exploited
- Support to End Exploitation Now (SEEN)Youth (male, female, and transgender) under age 18 who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation or are at-risk
- youthSpark VoicesGirls ages 12-17 who are deemed high risk for child sex trafficking involvement
Why was this topic chosen by the Advisory Committee?
The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents: Services for Victims topic area is relevant to child welfare because foster youth are more vulnerable than the general population and more likely to become victims of such exploitation. The Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Task Force of the California Child Welfare Council released a report in early 2013, Ending the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Call for Multi-System Collaboration in California, which addressed sex trade recruitment practices targeting foster youth. Foster youth who are struggling with their identity, feel like they do not belong, or are otherwise vulnerable can easily become identified targets by sex traffickers. Current information indicates that youth in group home placements are greatly at risk. The sex traffickers learn where the group homes are located and are known to recruit from them. Once they recruit one foster youth, they also use that youth to help recruit additional youth from the group home. In these cases, the first youth may convince another to run away. Both youth then run directly to the sex trafficker who begins the process of indoctrination into the world of sexual exploitation and prostitution. In addition to those in group homes, foster youth who are chronic runners or involved in substance abuse appear to be the most vulnerable. While the number of foster youth who may be involved in commercial sexual exploitation is unknown, as awareness increases, data will be more readily available. The need for the development of evidence-based interventions to correct and stem the spread of exploitation of foster youth is imperative.
Howard Himes, Director
County of Napa Health and Human Services Agency
Linda Williams, PhD, Professor
Criminal Justice & Criminology Department, University of Massachusetts, Lowell