The high-profile case of Jeffrey Epstein has highlighted the reality that minors are being commercially sexually exploited, says Dr. Emily Rothman, professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health. “The public is now seeing that young teenagers who stand out as seeming vulnerable in some way may be particularly targeted.”
Although commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) of minors is an important public health and criminal justice issue, a new study led by Dr. Rothman is the first to evaluate the effectiveness of a child CSE prevention program in the U.S. — ever.
The study, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, found that young teenagers who went through the Boston-based My Life My Choice (MLMC) curriculum showed signs of being less at risk for commercial sexual exploitation afterward, including reporting fewer episodes of sexually explicit behavior and dating abuse, and giving CSE-related information and help to their friends.
“What is so exciting about the My Life My Choice model is that they are bringing education and support to girls who are believed to be at high risk before they are exploited,” Dr. Rothman says. “This is really what public health is all about: Identifying a problem, designing a solution to prevent it from happening in the first place, and testing it out.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on September 20