Service Providers’ Perspectives on Sex Trafficking of Male Minors: Comparing Background and Trafficking Situations of Male and Female Victims

Abstract

Even though it is documented that sex trafficking of male minors occurs, limited research has focused on this type of commercial sexual exploitation. Data was collected via telephone interviews from 323 professionals who worked with at-risk youth and/or crime victims/offenders in all counties in a mostly rural state in the U.S. Half of the respondents had worked with at least one victim of child sex trafficking, and of these 161 respondents, 57.8% had worked with at least one male victim. To contextualize the data on male minor victims, quantitative analysis was conducted comparing the close-ended and themes identified in open-ended responses of professionals who reported they worked exclusively with male victims (n = 26) versus professionals who worked exclusively with female victims (n = 81) to examine how sex trafficking of male minors may differ or be similar to sex trafficking of female minors. Many similarities in victims’ vulnerability factors, the systems victims encountered, and their greatest needs were found by gender. Familial sex trafficking was one of the typical pathways into commercial sexual exploitation for minors. There were some differences in the pathways in sex trafficking by gender. There is a need for greater awareness, training, and resource-building for identifying and appropriately responding to male minors who are trafficked in commercial sex.

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Funding

This study was funded by a research support Grant from the University of Kentucky Office of the Vice President for Research.

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Correspondence to Jennifer Cole.

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The sole author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Cole, J. Service Providers’ Perspectives on Sex Trafficking of Male Minors: Comparing Background and Trafficking Situations of Male and Female Victims. Child Adolesc Soc Work J 35, 423–433 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-018-0530-z

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Keywords

  • Youth
  • Child
  • Child maltreatment
  • Commercial sexual exploitation of children
  • Child welfare services/child protection
  • Gender/sex differences