Human sex trafficking, defined as a “modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years” (USDHHS, 2009) is a problem that many people do not think is issue in America, but in fact is. This study investigated the attitudes of social workers towards domestically sex trafficked children in the United States, as well as towards pimps and johns, and federal and state policies regarding the safety of sex trafficked children. It was hypothesized that social workers who work in child welfare would have a greater knowledge of domestic sex trafficking of children in America than those social workers who work with adults. It was also hypothesized that overall, social workers would have a greater knowledge of international sex trafficking than of domestic sex trafficking. To test these hypotheses, a survey was distributed to 42 social workers at different agencies who were gathered through snowball sampling. Results found that overall, males had a slightly higher opinion of children who were sex trafficked and a lesser opinion of pimps and johns than females. The results found that social workers’ attitudes towards trafficked children and those who traffic them varied among questions, based on the social worker’s field setting. Social workers need to be aware of the impact of sex trafficking so they can advocate for children who have been sex trafficked and so they can provide effective therapeutic services to those effected by sex trafficking.


Providence College


Spring 2010








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Social Work Commons