Commercial Sexual Exploitation Outcomes in a Community Sample of Youth



      Researchers have suggested that victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) have deleterious long-term outcomes; however, longitudinal trajectories of youth who experience CSE have not been explored. For the current study, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adults Health (Add Health) survey was used to compare trajectories of youth who had experienced CSE with their nonexploited peers.


      Propensity score matching was used to match youth at waves 1 and 2 who experienced CSE and who did not experience CSE but had similar risk profiles. Youth with low-risk profiles were also matched. Our sample included 430 youth who experienced CSE, a matched sample of 430 youth who did not experience CSE but had a similar risk profile, and a sample of youth who did not experience CSE and had low-risk profiles (n = 782). Outcomes of interest included psychological, behavioral, physical, and interpersonal well-being.


      Youth who had experienced CSE had higher levels of injection drug use, more police stops, more emergency room visits, and lower relationship satisfaction than their nonexploited peers. Well-being for individuals who experienced CSE as youth changed some over time, but those changes were comparable to the changes experienced by individuals of similar risk who did not experience CSE. Well-being measures for low-risk youth were universally higher compared to high-risk youth, regardless of CSE.


      Youth receiving drug treatment, experiencing delinquency, or being seen in emergency medical settings may benefit from CSE screening, so that victims can be identified and provided immediate and comprehensive services.


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