Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Tom A. McLaughlin


AbstractCommercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and child sex trafficking involve the sexual abuse, exploitation, and the trafficking of minors for financial benefits or in exchange for something valuable, which may include monetary or nonmonetary benefits that are given or received by any person. It is imperative to develop interventions that provide direct service to CSEC and/or sex-trafficked youths. The intervention used should adopt evidence-based modalities that have demonstrated efficacy and effectiveness with CSEC and sex trafficked youths. Seeking safety therapy is one such evidence-based therapy that could address CSEC behavior and safety in New York City (NYC) and ultimately effect positive social change. This qualitative research design used in-depth interviews to explore social workers’ perceptions of the effectiveness of seeking safety therapy on CSEC behavior and safety in NYC. The theoretical framework of the general strain theory, which focuses on the challenges that force a minor to be involved in criminal acts and the law, unlawful arrest, sexual abuse, exploitation, and history of violence at the hands of their caregivers, was used. Data were collected through a semistructured interview with 10 clinical social workers who provided the seeking safety therapy intervention to the CSEC in NYC. They described their perceptions of the effectiveness of seeking safety therapy on CSEC behavior and safety and identified possible barriers to delivering this intervention. The findings from this study could have a positive impact on clinical social work practice and positive social change as social workers would be better equipped with skills, knowledge, and sensitivity to CSEC and trafficked youth.

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