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Trauma Violence Abuse. 2019 Feb 3:1524838018821956. doi: 10.1177/1524838018821956. [Epub ahead of print]

Vulnerabilities Relevant for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children/Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: A Systematic Review of Risk Factors.

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1 Department of Maternal and Child Health, Gillings School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) occur across the United States, violating the rights and health of far too many children and youth. Adequate prevention efforts should seek to understand the factors that make minors vulnerable to sexual exploitation in order to properly design programs to prevent victimization. This review presents the identified risk factors collected via a systematic literature review. Following full-text review, 15 studies were selected for inclusion by meeting the following criteria: original quantitative or qualitative research studies published in English from January 2010 to September 2017 with titles or abstracts that indicated a focus on the risk factors, vulnerabilities, or statistics of CSEC/DMST and a domestic focus on CSEC/DMST (for U.S.-based journals) with findings that did not combine associations between minors and adults in the study. Relevant risk factors and vulnerabilities found in this review include child abuse and maltreatment, caregiver strain, running away or being thrown away, substance use, peer influence, witnessing family violence or criminality, poverty or material need, difficulty in school, conflict with parents, poor mental health or view of self, involvement in child protective services, involvement in juvenile detention or delinquency, early substance use, and prior rape or adolescent sexual victimization.


commercial sexual exploitation of children; domestic minor sex trafficking; gender-based violence; prevention; risk factors; vulnerabilities


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