Qualitative research on child protection practice and child sexual exploitation

Trafficking In Persons Report Map 2010

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Over the past year, three graduate students from my applied research course (Ellen Calhoun, Melissa Geoffroy and Dominique Gutierrez) designed a qualitative research project to learn more about the experiences of child protection workers engaged in case management work with girls who have been sexually exploited.  Sexual exploitation is often referred to as prostitution.  This group of women were drawn to this research question as a result of their case practice with girls and boys who had been/were still “in the life.”

After completing their project successfully for their course, I joined the team in order to assist with the re-assessment of the data.  We have partnered in developing their final paper for my course in to two manuscripts for (hopeful) publication.

Short abstract: Sexual exploitation among adolescent girls is increasingly prevalent in child protection work. Identifying and working with victims of sexual exploitation is a significant challenge for child protection services (CPS) workers. Little is known, however, about how CPS workers understand this population and how this work impacts their personal and professional lives. Utilizing an exploratory, qualitative approach, interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of fifteen CPS workers in an urban New England city. Policy and practice implications relate to the need for clinical supervision, self-care encouragement and the development of CPS practice models that are strengths-based and trauma-informed.

Findings from this study will be presented on October 2, 2009 at the 6th Annual Conference on Prostitution, Sex Work and Human Trafficking.