Discerning generational shifts in child and adolescent susceptibility to sex trafficking
Humphreys, Krystal D.
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ABSTRACT Human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking, is currently the fastest growing criminal industry for many reasons. Children and adolescents are most likely to become victims of this heinous crime because of the vulnerabilities inherent to this developmental stage. Adolescents are susceptible to sex trafficking for many reasons, such as their need to belong, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, and many others. Furthermore, changes that have occurred within this generation of children and adolescents not only make them uniquely different from previous generations but also exacerbate their susceptibility to sex trafficking. This qualitative study explored professional school counselor experience with generational shifts in children and adolescents and how these changes have increased children’s and adolescents’ susceptibility to sex trafficking. Specifically, school counselors were interviewed about their knowledge of sex trafficking and the differences they have observed in this generation of children and adolescents that distinguish them from preceding generations. Although, society is learning more about sex trafficking with children and adolescents, little research has been conducted. Most information is derived from police reports and survivor accounts. Currently, no studies have discussed professional school counselor experience with children’s and adolescents’ susceptibility to sex trafficking. Findings from this research study indicate changes in seven categories pertaining to child and adolescent susceptibility to sex trafficking. These categories include: personal achievement, parenting, technology, risk taking behavior, sexuality/gender identity, poverty, and mental illness The research findings of this study can be utilized to increase awareness of sex trafficking in professional school counselors, aide in implementing training programs and graduate school curriculum that make necessary adjustments to counselor interventions, and to promote advocacy for children and adolescents regarding their susceptibility to sex trafficking.