Recommendations for Social Service Agencies’ Response to Peer Recruitment Amongst Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth
Peer recruitment is a common way that youth enter into the commercial sex industry. Exploiters intentionally use commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) to recruit their peers as CSEC identified youth have easy access to their peers and can gain their peers’ trust easily. Peer recruitment is rampant anywhere large numbers of youth congregate such as assessment centers, group homes, schools, etc.
Although the focus for the past several years has been on female involved in CSEC, it is important to note that peer recruitment can occur with girls, boys, and transgender youth.
CSEC identified youth recruit youth for a variety of reasons and it is essential that providers DO NOT assume they know why youth are recruiting other youth. When we assume we know the reason a CSEC identified youth is recruiting another youth it limits our ability to understand the situation from a trauma-informed perspective.
Reasons CSEC victims recruit youth can include but are not limited to:
Too often providers assume that CSEC victims are maliciously recruiting their peers. Rather than assuming you know why a youth is recruiting another youth, it is better to approach the youth suspected of peer recruitment with a sense of curiosity to better understand the larger context to the situation. The better understanding you have, the better you will be able to develop a plan of action.
What are signs that a CSEC identified youth is recruiting his/her peers?
Signs of CSEC recruitment can include but are not limited to:
What can you do when there is a suspicion of CSEC recruitment?
When there is suspicion of peer recruitment occurring, it is essential to take a team approach and interact with the youth from a trauma-informed and attachment centered approach. Providers can do the following:
How can you prevent CSEC recruitment?
Agencies can prevent CSEC recruitment by: