Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: Assessing and Reducing Risk
This journal article describes one of the preliminary phases in a larger study to develop the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) Risk and Resiliency Assessment. The purpose of this study was to examine the factors that may put youth at risk for DMST and to evaluate the effectiveness of a 10-session group intervention, called the Lotus Psychoeducational Group, in promoting protective factors to counteract such risks. Thus, over a three-month period, the researchers facilitated 10 psychoeducational group interventions with 23 runaway, homeless, and street youth (RHSY) ages 14 to 21 at an urban drop-in center. The intervention's primary goals were to increase awareness in the following areas: 1) healthy versus unhealthy relationship patterns; 2) healthy relationship boundaries, and 3) mental, physical, and sexual respect in relationships. Additional individual counseling services were offered to the youth who attended the group. Results from the pre-test/post-test data indicate a myriad of risk factors for DMST among the youth participants. Furthermore, the findings indicate that RHSY can define and develop protective factors against sex trafficking when they participate in a psychoeducational intervention within a safe, encouraging, and youth-friendly environment. The researchers maintain that these findings have implications relevant to practitioners and researchers in the field.