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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Increasing Child Serving Professionals' Awareness and Understanding of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Maureen C Kenny, Claire Helpingstine, Haiying Long, Lorena Perez, Maria Clara Harrington
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 2019 February 14, : 1-18
30762481
Child serving professionals need increased understanding of the identification and therapeutic needs of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a training program aimed to increase awareness of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) among professionals likely to encounter victims in their work. Professionals' (N = 227) knowledge level was examined prior to the training, immediately thereafter, and in a 6-12 month follow-up. Despite professional position or years of experience, participants had similar levels of CSEC knowledge before the training and all showed a significant improvement in their knowledge after the training. However, follow-up testing on a smaller subsample demonstrated that knowledge gains were not maintained. The analysis of the participants' responses to how their behavior would change subsequent to the training revealed important themes including: (1) greater ability to identify/assess or recognize CSEC victims, (2) greater understanding and knowledge of CSEC, (3) increased ability to communicate, interact, and engage with CSEC victims, and (4) heightened desire to educate others and raise awareness about CSEC. Results also indicated that participants were very satisfied with the training and found it highly relevant to their work.

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