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J Child Sex Abus. 2017 Aug-Sep;26(6):692-709. doi: 10.1080/10538712.2017.1323814. Epub 2017 Jun 28.

Baseline Characteristics of Dependent Youth Who Have Been Commercially Sexually Exploited: Findings From a Specialized Treatment Program.

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a Florida Mental Health Institute , University of South Florida , Tampa , Florida.
b Citrus Health Network Inc ., Hialeah , Florida.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children has emerged as a critical issue within child welfare, but little is currently known about this population or effective treatment approaches to address their unique needs. Children in foster care and runaways are reported to be vulnerable to exploitation because they frequently have unmet needs for family relationships, and they have had inadequate supervision and histories of trauma of which traffickers take advantage. The current article presents data on the demographic characteristics, trauma history, mental and behavioral health needs, physical health needs, and strengths collected on a sample of 87 commercially sexually exploited youth. These youth were served in a specialized treatment program in Miami-Dade County, Florida, for exploited youth involved with the child welfare system. Findings revealed that the youth in this study have high rates of previous sexual abuse (86% of the youth) and other traumatic experiences prior to their exploitation. Youth also exhibited considerable mental and behavioral health needs. Given that few programs emphasize the unique needs of children who have been sexually exploited, recommendations are offered for providing a continuum of specialized housing and treatment services to meet the needs of sexually exploited youth, based on the authors' experiences working with this population.


child welfare; children; commercially sexually exploited children; intervention; mental health; program evaluation; sex trafficking; treatment

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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