A Short Screening Tool to Identify Victims of Child Sex Trafficking in the Health Care Setting

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



The aim of this study was to describe characteristics of commercial sexual exploitation of children/child sex trafficking (CSEC/CST) victims and to develop a screening tool to identify victims among a high-risk adolescent population.


In this cross-sectional study, patients aged 12 to 18 years who presented to 1 of 3 metropolitan pediatric emergency departments or 1 child protection clinic and who were identified as victims of CSEC/CST were compared with similar-aged patients with allegations of acute sexual assault/sexual abuse (ASA) without evidence of CSEC/CST. The 2 groups were compared on variables related to medical and reproductive history, high-risk behavior, mental health symptoms, and injury history. After univariate analysis, a subset of candidate variables was subjected to multivariable logistic regression to identify an optimum set of 5 to 7 screening items.


Of 108 study participants, 25 comprised the CSEC/CST group, and 83 comprised the ASA group. Average (SD) age was 15.4 (1.8) years for CSEC/CST patients and 14.8 (1.6) years for ASA patients; 100% of the CSEC/CST and 95% of the ASA patients were female. The 2 groups differed significantly on 16 variables involving reproductive history, high-risk behavior, sexually transmitted infections, and previous experience with violence. A 6-item screen was constructed, and a cutoff score of 2 positive answers had a sensitivity of 92%, specificity of 73%, positive predictive value of 51%, and negative predictive value of 97%.


Adolescent CSEC/CST victims differ from ASA victims without evidence of CSEC/CST across several domains. A 6-item screen effectively identifies CSEC/CST victims in a high-risk adolescent population.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles