The Impact of Childhood Abuse on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Youth: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Ieke De Vries*, Kelly E. Goggin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Scholars and practitioners have drawn attention to the issue of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) of minors, yet we continue to lack a clear understanding of which factors increase a minor’s risk to this type of victimization. The current article reviews the literature about the impact of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse on the risk of CSE. The study utilizes quantitative meta-analytical techniques to estimate an overall impact of prior abuse. Nineteen studies were selected after a comprehensive search of electronic databases covering the fields of social science, criminology, psychology, or related fields. To be included in the analyses, all articles had to measure the direct impact of sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse on minor’s risk to CSE, utilizing multivariate techniques and presenting statistical metrics to assess the impact of prior abuse. Key findings demonstrate that sexual abuse considerably increases the risk of exploitation, especially among female youth in the United States. Physical and emotional abuse show negligible or no significant independent impacts, even though a few studies have begun to suggest that experiencing multiple types of childhood abuse may aggravate a risk of sexual exploitation. Our findings can guide further research on the impact of prior victimizations and inform screening instruments that are being developed to identify youth at risk of CSE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)886-903
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number5
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • child abuse
  • commercial sexual exploitation
  • revictimization
  • sexual abuse
  • sexual assault
  • youth violence


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