A Girl's Path to Prostitution: Linking Caregiver Adversity to Child Susceptibility

A Girl's Path to Prostitution: Linking Caregiver Adversity to Child Susceptibility

A Girl's Path to Prostitution: Linking Caregiver Adversity to Child Susceptibility

A Girl's Path to Prostitution: Linking Caregiver Adversity to Child Susceptibility

Synopsis

Although the Trafficking Victims Protection Act defined girls exploited in prostitution as child sex trafficking victims, these youth are often misidentified and marginalized. Due to victim inaccessibility, emergent research regarding the problem lacks theoretical framing or sufficient data for quantitative analysis. This study assesses an intergenerational path from caregiver adversity to child exploitation in prostitution drawn from Agnew's general strain theory using structural equation modeling. Findings supported the hypotheses, revealing that highly stressed mothers were more likely to abuse their daughters. Consequently, maltreated girls more commonly attempted escape by running away, used substances earlier, and reported higher sexual denigration toward self and others. These behavioral and psychological problems heightened vulnerability to exploitation in prostitution.

Excerpt

Operating in the shadows, the sex trafficking of minors is considered among the most difficult forms of child maltreatment to expose or investigate (Brayley, Cockbain, & Laycock, 2011; Estes & Weiner, 2005). In an era of unprecedented technological accessibility, coupled with greater assurance of anonymity, the number of children exploited by the commercial sex industry continues to escalate (Cooper, 2005a; Farr, 2005; Hughes, 2002, 2005). While using a tiered system to assess and sanction other countries based on their attempts to combat human trafficking (DeStefano, 2007; U.S. Department of State [DOS], 2011), the United States is failing to combat trafficking in prostitution of U.S. children in its major cities (Estes & Wiener, 2005; Flowers, 2001; Mitchell, Finkelhor, & Wolak, 2010) and in rural America (Heineman, Shelton, & Anton, 2006; Vieth & Ragland, 2005). Child sex trafficking is classified within the general crime category of trafficking in persons or human trafficking (DOS, 2008, 2011; Fong & Cardoso, 2010; Trafficking Victims Protection Act [TVPA], 2000). First and foremost considered a human rights issue, human trafficking deprives thousands of men, women, and children of their fundamental rights to human dignity and personal freedoms (DOS, 2009; Farrell & Fahy, 2009; Gallagher, 2010; Kelly, 2005; Lehti & Aromaa, 2007; Wheaton, Schauer, & Galli, 2010).

Child sex trafficking is deemed to be a particularly intolerable form of human trafficking, due to the natural and inherent vulnerability of children, possessing both physical and psychological weakness and . . .

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