Faculty Articles

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: an Assessment of Offender Characteristics

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Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology





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The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), specifically child trafficking, producers or consumers of child sex trafficking (i.e., prostitution), sexual abuse images, and enticement, has become a growing area of concern. The increasing profitability of CSEC, combined with the clandestine nature of the offenses, calls for immediate attention from international law enforcement and the mental health community. Paramount to the resolution of this global crisis is the identification of the perpetrators of various CSEC crimes. The research pertaining to these offenders is most frequently aggregated and limited to basic demographic data, providing a larger, more generalized picture of CSEC. The purpose of this study is to determine characteristics, within a sample of known CSEC offenders, that differentiate among offenders who engage in sex trafficking as trafficker; engage in sex trafficking as a producer or consumer; produce, distribute, or possess child sexual abuse images; and travel or use enticements to engage in illicit sexual contact with a minor. This observational, survey design includes a record review of 98 offenders who were processed through the FBI Miami Field Office. Results showed that males are more likely to engage in CSEC offenses compared to females. Offenders who collect child sexual abuse images tended to be employed, had no history of prior arrests, and were older than other CSEC offenders. Additionally, engaging in befriending strategies in order to gain access to a victim was also predictive of involvement in child sexual abuse images. Unemployment was the only statistically significant predictor of engaging in child sex trafficking as either a sex buyer or a producer. Finally, perpetrators who engaged in the traveling/enticement of victims were found to be younger, unemployed, single, and without a known history of contact offending. Implications of the findings are discussed.



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