Faculty Publications


An Exploratory Model of Girl’s Vulnerability to Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Prostitution


Joan ReidFollow

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Joan A Reid

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2011


Due to inaccessibility of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation, the majority of emergent research on the problem lacks theoretical framing or sufficient data for quantitative analysis. Drawing from Agnew’s general strain theory, this study utilized structural equation modeling to explore: whether caregiver strain is linked to child maltreatment, if experiencing maltreatment is associated with risk-inflating behaviors or sexual denigration of self/others, and if these behavioral and psychosocial dysfunctions are related to vulnerability to commercial sexual exploitation. The proposed model was tested with data from 174 predominately African American women, 12% of whom indicated involvement in prostitution while a minor. Findings revealed child maltreatment worsened with increased caregiver strain. Experiencing child maltreatment was linked to running away, initiating substance use at earlier ages, and higher levels of sexual denigration of self/others. Sexual denigration of self/others was significantly related to the likelihood of prostitution as a minor. The network of variables in the model accounted for 34% of the variance in prostitution as a minor.