Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Social Work

Degree Name



Social Work and Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Lyle

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert W. Waymer

Third Advisor

Dr. M. Sebrina Jackson


The issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is a growing problem within the United States of America. According to research by Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography, 300,000 CSEC children may live within the United States every year (United Nations Economic and Social Council, 1996). Other research by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (1999) has estimated that the number of CSEC children may be increasing to around 300,000-500,000 per year. Research is lacking in providing more current statistics regarding the number of children being commercially sexually exploited due to the clandestine nature of the lifestyle. The CSEC population is described as an intricate network of pimps, johns, and child victims (Slavin, 2002; Dalla, Xia, & Kennedy, 2003; Gragg, Petta, Berstein, Eisen, & Quinn, 2007). The population is often created of children that are deemed homeless, thrownaways, or transient/migrant (Gragg, Petta, Berstein, Eisen, & Quinn, 2007) or have not been reported missing by those with guardianship. According to research by A Future Not A Past, a national organization to end child prostitution, most CSEC children enter “the Life” around 12-13 years of age (A Future Not A Past, 2009). This dissertation examines the impact of perceived individual stigma, perceived social stigma and social supports impact on treatment seeking behavior among victims of CSEC. Through a mixed methods study, fifty (50) participants were selected through snowball sampling to participate in the quantitative research agenda and ten (10) participated in in-depth interviews. The findings showed that 48% reported seeking treatment for CSEC and 76% stated they had strong social support systems. The qualitative analysis supported the position that victims of CSEC will seek treatment with the help of strong social support systems.

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