"They Said They Were Going to Help Us Get Through This": Documenting Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Victims' Interactions with Police

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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Publication Title

46th Annual Western Society of Criminology Conference

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The current study seeks to better understand the experiences of youth involved in domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST). In analyzing transcripts from 41 interviews conducted with DMST victims, three themes emerged and illustrate DMST victim's interaction with law enforcement officers while trading sex. These include: (1) harassing and/or demeaning treatment of DMST victims by the police, (2) the cycle of arrest: it's all about the pimps, but what about the victims, and (3) positive treatment of DMST victims by the police. Together, these themes suggest that, DMST victims continue to be misidentified as either adult prostitution offenders or juvenile delinquents rather than be treated as sex trafficking victims. In fact, during their arrest, they are oftentimes subjected to further violence by the arresting police officers. Their needs are often overlooked while the apprehension and prosecution of their pimps takes precedence. Indeed, a few victims do recall having positive interactions with law enforcement officers while trading sex.


Criminology and Criminal Justice | Legal Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences



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