Date of Award

Spring 2021

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

David Finkelhor

Second Advisor

Rebecca Glauber

Third Advisor

Cesar Rebellon


Researchers have examined the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), however, they tend to focus on a stereotypical victim. Little research exists on the diversity of CSEC, and the various forms that it can encompass. This secondary data analysis examines the diversity in United States CSEC cases by using Mitchell, Finkelhor, and Wolak’s (2010) National Juvenile Prostitution Study (NJPS) case narratives. The current study uses thematic analysis to analyze the 132 NJPS case narratives. Seven major overarching themes of diversity emerged throughout the research process: (1) Facilitator/Relationship of Facilitator and Dynamics, (2) Gender of Juvenile, (3) Reason for Engagement: Risk Factors, (4) Reason for Engagement: Methods of Recruitment, (5) Reason for Engagement, (6) Method of Engagement, and (7) Form of Interaction with Law Enforcement. Within each major theme, there were a variety of subthemes that became evident. The major theme Facilitator/Relationship of Facilitator and Dynamics included the subthemes family member involvement, fear of exploiter, romantic relationship with exploiter, gender of pimp, and evidence of image based sexual exploitation. Gender of Juvenile included whether the juvenile was a male, female, or male transvestite. The major theme Reason for Engagement: Risk Factors included the subthemes runaway, poor family life, mental health problems, and substance use. Reason for Engagement: Methods of Recruitment included false promises/use of threats, romantic relationship with exploiter, and family member involvement. The major theme Reason for Engagement included subthemes survival, substance abuse addiction, forced by exploiter, and to make money. Method of Engagement included street, online, phone chat, businesses, and offline escort service. Finally, the major theme Form of Interaction with Law Enforcement included the subthemes cooperative/provided information, lied about information, refused to turn in/give information on pimp, and hostile/violent towards law enforcement. The current study exemplifies the diverse forms that the commercial sexual exploitation of children can take on in the United States.