Instruments to Identify Commercially Sexually Exploited Children: Feasibility of Use in an Emergency Department Setting

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This review examines the screening instruments that are in existence today to identify commercially sexually exploited children. The instruments are compared and evaluated for their feasibility of use in an emergency department setting.


Four electronic databases were searched to identify screening instruments that assessed solely for commercial sexual exploitation. Search terms included “commercially sexually exploited children,” “CSEC,” “domestic minor sex trafficking,” “DMST,” “juvenile sex trafficking,” and “JST.” Those terms were then searched in combination with each of the following: “tools,” “instruments,” “screening,” “policies,” “procedures,” “data collection,” “evidence,” and “validity.”


Six screening instruments were found to meet the inclusion criteria. Variation among instruments included number of questions, ease of administration, information sources, scoring methods, and training information provided. Two instruments were determined to be highly feasible for use in the emergency department setting, those being the Asian Health Services and Banteay Srei's CSEC Screening Protocol and Greenbaum et al's CSEC/child sex trafficking 6-item screening tool.


A current dearth of screening instruments was confirmed. It is recommended that additional screening instruments be created to include developmentally appropriate instruments for preadolescent children. Numerous positive features were identified within the instruments in this review and are suggested for use in future screening instruments, including succinctness, a simple format, easy administration, training materials, sample questions, multiple information sources, designation of questions requiring mandatory reporting, a straightforward scoring system, and an algorithm format.

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