Domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) is a specific sector of human trafficking in which the victims are United States citizens and under the age of 18. This type of trafficking is widespread across the U.S. in every state and every major city. The harms caused by such exploitation is extremely damaging to victims, especially considering a high population of these victims has already faced abuse prior to their trafficking experience. Many of these children that come from abusive and neglectful backgrounds often end up homeless, which makes them especially vulnerable to traffickers. Most victims, if they do escape from the industry, are severely damaged emotionally, mentally, and physically. Therefore, treatment for this population is difficult to provide. The following presentation will propose a prevention program aimed at populations of children at high risk for DMST. This program will have a basis in the building of resiliency, in which children build valuable personality traits and life skills that can help them overcome adversity. This program is theoretical in that it has not been implemented yet, but has groundwork in evidence-based research on similar type programs and the study of resiliency.
Natalie Kopan is a senior psychology major. She is currently completing a senior honors thesis on the topic of human trafficking with Dr. Brad Shepherd.