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Friends, Family, and Boyfriends: An Analysis of Relationship Pathways Into Commercial Sexual Exploitation

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 90 Dated: April 2019 Pages: 1-12
Date Published
April 2019
12 pages

This study examined the extent to which interpersonal relationships and contextual factors (e.g. abuse within the home, substance abuse, etc.) influence commercial sexual exploitation.


The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is a major global issue that affects over two million children each year (Polaris Project, 2014). Large metropolitan cities, such as Las Vegas, have high rates of child prostitution (Shared Hope International, 2009). Participants for this study includes 26 CSEC survivors located within the state of Nevada. The study used a qualitative content analysis approach with transcripts of interviews with CSEC survivors. Three stages of analysis were conducted to assess the relationships that influenced the participants' sexual exploitation, as well as the contextual factors shared by the participants. Analyses indicated that three types of relationships led to commercial sexual exploitation, i.e., friends, family, and boyfriends. Of the three relationship typologies, friends were the most common (n=14). As for contextual factors, it was common for participants to have been abused within their homes (n=15) or to have run away from home (n=20). (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: April 1, 2019