School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Kristen Kellen


CSEC, commercial sexual exploitation, sexual exploitation, systemic barriers




The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), also known as child sex trafficking is a topic trending amongst the media both nationally and internationally. Within the United States, numerous agencies such as law enforcement (LE), the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), the Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS), Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs), and others tend to become involved in child trafficking cases in some capacity. This qualitative study aims to fill a gap in research by investigating how the child-serving system creates its own barriers, leaving child victims without services. Two data collection methods were utilized to obtain which barriers may be present amongst CSEC youth in the state of Georgia, and how often they may be observed. Participants from the statewide CSEC Response Team provided answers to an online questionnaire investigating how often systemic barriers and trauma symptoms were observed amongst their caseloads. Victim case files were also reviewed to corroborate this information and provide a quantitative element for readers. The study revealed, through documentation of victims’ case files and responses from professionals, that victims are not adequately provided appropriate services due to high-risk factors, trauma symptoms, and uneducated professionals.

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