Understanding Health Needs of Minor Sex Trafficking Survivors
Emily Rothman leads the BU arm of a nationwide study on the short- and long-term health consequences of commercial sexual exploitation of minors.
A School of Public Health researcher is part of a new, nationwide, multi-university study on the short- and long-term health consequences of sex trafficking of minors.
Emily Rothman, professor of community health sciences, leads the Boston University arm of the study. Supported by a three-year grant from the National Institute of Justice, Rothman and colleagues at Northeastern University, University of New Hampshire, and RTI International are partnering with ten community-based human trafficking service provider organizations across the US.
Informed by the experiences of advocates and survivors, the researchers will recruit 500 survivors of minor sex trafficking to participate in a community-based survey. This survey will provide foundational information about the characteristics of health outcomes among trafficked minors, insights into the key service needs of this population, how this population may come into contact with first responders including child welfare agencies and justice systems, and the degree to which existing services can assist them. Additionally, this research will identify challenges that sexually exploited youth face accessing healthcare services.
“Right now, too much of what we do in the field of human trafficking is based on anecdotes and providers’ best guesses about who the survivors are,” Rothman says. “We need to reduce guesswork about human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Collecting information directly from exploited people will tell us who they are, what they experience, and what help they need.”