Overcoming disclosure reluctance in youth victims of sex trafficking: New directions for research, policy, and practice.

Jennifer Lavoie, Kelli L. Dickerson, Allison D. Redlich, Jodi A. Quas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

An alarming number of youth worldwide are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, particularly sex trafficking. Normative developmental processes and motivations across the adolescent period—the age when youth are at greatest risk for trafficking—combined with their history, make them highly likely to be reluctant to disclose their exploitation to police, who often encounter victims because they are suspected of delinquency and crime and who interrogate the victims as suspects. Little scientific and policy attention has been devoted to understanding how to question these victims in a way that reduces their disclosure reluctance and increases their provision of legally relevant information. In the current review, we describe research concerning trafficking victims’ histories and exploitative experiences, juvenile suspects’ and victims’ encounters with the legal system, and best-practice forensic interviewing approaches to elicit disclosures from child victims. We highlight the implications of these areas for understanding the dynamics between how police encounter and interact with adolescent trafficking victims and whether and how the victims disclose trafficking details during these interactions. We close with an agenda for research to test interviewing methods for suspected victims of sex trafficking and with policy and practice recommendations for interviewers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-238
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2019


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