| | | | | | | |

Empowering service providers to overcome biases and uplift the well-being of boys and young men affected by sexual exploitation

Understanding the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Boys & Young Men
Understanding the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Boys & Young Men

In an ideal world, all young people should have access to safe environments and connections with supportive individuals who prioritize their health and well-being. These spaces would allow them to freely express themselves and pursue their aspirations. Unfortunately, this isn't always the reality.

Many young individuals, especially boys and young men, who have experienced or are currently facing commercial sexual exploitation, endure significant and intricate traumas. Regrettably, they often encounter numerous challenges when seeking the necessary support. This issue has long been underestimated and underreported when it comes to the exploitation and trafficking of boys and young men.

Increasing Awareness and Offering Solutions

The commercial sexual exploitation of boys and young men is frequently overlooked. To address this issue, National Center For Youth Law have collaborated with MenHealing, giantslayer., and Bob's House of Hope to create a comprehensive guide called “Understanding the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Boys & Young Men” The guide aims to help service providers overcome biases and barriers, enabling them to effectively identify boys and young men who require assistance in their and personal growth. You can also download only the here “Resources from the guide – for survivors, providers, and advocates.”

The prevailing narrative predominantly focuses on the commercial sexual exploitation of cisgender girls, while boys and young men receive minimal attention. When boys and young men are discussed, they are often portrayed as willing participants, sex buyers, or exploiters, rather than victims. However, it is crucial to recognize that boys and young men also experience commercial sexual exploitation. We must acknowledge the need for improved identification methods, as well as enhanced support and services to help them heal and thrive. It is essential to allocate resources to all youth, regardless of their gender.

Examining the Impact of Trauma

Boys and young men who have become victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation are a vulnerable group that requires significant support. Recent reports indicate that at least one in six men has experienced sexual abuse or assault, and male youth with histories of sexual abuse face an eight-fold greater risk of being trafficked for sex later in life compared to those without such histories.

In this guide, designed for service providers, you explore the effects of sexual abuse trauma on boys and young men. You delve into the impact on their health, substance use, and involvement with the juvenile justice system. Additionally, you analyze how gender stereotypes and biases hinder the identification and disclosure of commercial sexual exploitation among this population.

The guide begins with a poignant first-person account from a survivor and concludes with several recommendations. By reading this guide, service providers can learn about:

  • Enhancing support systems and addressing biases
  • Valuable trainings and educational resources
  • Strategies for creating services and safe spaces specifically tailored to boys and young men
  • Expanding funding and investments in these crucial services

We encourage you to download the guide and also explore this resource focused on improving services for LGBTQIA2S+ youth survivors of sexual exploitation. By taking these steps, we can work together to create a safer and more inclusive environment for all young individuals who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation.