Journal of Child Sexual Abuse
The Illusions and Juxtapositions of Commercial Sexual Exploitation Among Youth: Identifying Effective Street-Outreach Strategies
Minnesota Department of Human Services, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
University of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
LAUREL D. EDINBURGH
Midwest Children’s Resource Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
To explore sexually exploited youths’ perspectives of how street outreach workers can effectively provide outreach and connections to services, we conducted qualitative interviews with 13 female participants, ages 14 to 22, in a Midwest U.S. city. Participants reported multiple types of exploitation, most first exploited by age 13, plus substance use and recurrent homelessness. Nearly all had a pimp, and all used the internet as a venue for sexual exploitation. Participants wanted outreach workers to use “soft words” to refer to exploitation. They expressed contradictory images of their “boyfriend” pimps and their exploitation. They wanted outreach workers to “provide resources,” “be nonjudgmental,” “listen,” and “care.” Street outreach can be one way to support sexually exploited youth but should occur in multiple settings.