New Research Suggests Teenagers Need to Hear More from Health Care Providers to Fully Understand Commercial Sexual Exploitation
NEW YORK, May 11, 2020 – A new research report entitled Teen Knowledge of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children reveals a gap between teen’s awareness versus their understanding of commercial exploitation of children (CSEC). The study, which captured the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of a group of high-risk teens, reported that while 87 percent of participants indicated an awareness of sex trafficking, accurate knowledge regarding potential sex traffickers was not universal.
“Although the group of high-risk teens who participated in the study overall had a good baseline knowledge of CSEC, 13 percent stated that they had never heard of sex trafficking, 9 percent did not think that sex trafficking could happen in the United States, and 67 percent denied ever talking to a health care provider about trafficking,” said Gail Hornor, DNP, CPNP, the lead author of the study.
One approach to closing the gap between teens’ awareness and their knowledge, suggests co-author Jennifer Sherfield, MSW, LISW-S, is to ensure that CSEC screening and anticipatory guidance are integrated into routine pediatric health care. She believes that health care providers like pediatric-focused advanced practice nurses can serve as a reliable learning source for their patients, 74 percent of whom depend on the internet, television, or movies to learn about CSEC.
“Confronting these thinking errors and providing accurate psycho-education around commercial sexual exploitation is paramount to reducing risk amongst an already vulnerable population and should be the responsibility of any health care or social service provider working with children,” Sherfield said.
The results of the report were published in the May/June 2020 issue of Journal of Pediatric Health Care. Also contributing to this research is co-author Jennifer Tscholl, MD