Supporting youth involved in domestic minor sex trafficking: Divergent perspectives on youth agency

Beth Sapiro, Laura Johnson, Judy L. Postmus, Cassandra Simmel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Domestic-minor sex trafficking (DMST) continues to affect youth in the United States; however, lack of empirical evidence for interventions and the complex sociopolitical discourses surrounding sex trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) hamper delivery of effective services to this population. To explore perspectives on best practices with these young people, 20 in-depth interviews were conducted with key stakeholders whose work provides them with a unique vantage point on the needs and experiences of survivors of DMST in New Jersey. Notes from interviews were coded and analyzed for emergent themes. While key stakeholders generally agreed on best practices, there were several important areas of dispute that emerged regarding how best to serve youth involved in DMST, specifically with regard to youth running away from services, models of service provision, and the use of technology by these youth. Findings suggest that professionals from diverse backgrounds may disagree about the extent to which youth involved in DMST possess agency in their decision-making capacities as adolescents. This study explores these areas of dispute, and discusses the implications for the many different professionals and systems that must work together in providing services to this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-110
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC)
  • Domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST)
  • Interventions for youth trafficking
  • Stakeholder collaboration
  • Youth agency


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