Adolescents selling sex: Exposure to abuse, mental health, self-harm behaviour and the need for help and support-a study of a Swedish national sample
ABSTRACT Background: Selling sex is not uncommon among adolescents and we need to increase our knowledge of how this affects them. Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate adolescents who sell sex regarding sexual, mental and physical abuse, mental health as estimated by using the Hopkins Symptom Check List-25 (HSCL-25), self-harm behaviour and the adolescents' experience of receiving help and support. Methods: The study was carried out on a national representative sample of adolescents (mean age 18.3 years) in Swedish high schools in the final year of their 3-year programme. The study had 3498 participants and a response rate of 60.4%. Results: Of the adolescents, 1.5% stated that they had sold sexual services. The selling of sex was associated with a history of sexual, mental and physical abuse. Poorer mental health and a higher degree of self-harm behaviour were reported among the adolescents who had sold sex. Help and support was sought to a greater extent by adolescents who had sold sex but these adolescents were not as satisfied with this help and support as the other adolescents. Conclusions: Adolescents that sell sex are a group especially exposed to sexual, mental and physical abuse. They have poorer mental health and engage in more self-harm behaviour than other adolescents. They are in need of more help and support than other adolescents and it is reasonable to assert that more resources, research and attention should be directed to this group to provide better help and support in the future.
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ABSTRACT: The current study concerns young women's life stories of their experiences selling sex online before the age of 18. The aim was to gain an understanding of young women's perceptions of the reasons they started, continued, and stopped selling sex. The study included interviews with 15 young women between the ages of 15 and 25 (M=18.9). Thematic analysis was used to identify similarities and differences in the narratives. Three themes and eight sub-themes were identified in relation to different stages in their lives in the sex trade. The themes were organized into three parts, each with its own storyline: "Entering - adverse life experiences"; traumatic events: feeling different and being excluded. "Immersion - using the body as a tool for regulating feelings"; being seen: being touched: being in control: affect regulation and self-harming. "Exiting - change or die"; living close to death: the process of quitting. The informants all had stable social lives in the sense that they had roofs over their heads, food to eat, and no substance-abuse issues. None had a third party who arranged the sexual contacts and none were currently trafficked. They described how their experiences of traumatic events and of feeling different and excluded had led them into the sex trade. Selling sex functioned as a way to be seen, to handle traumatic events, and to regulate feelings. Professionals working with young people who sell sex online need to understand the complex web of mixed feelings and emotional needs that can play a role in selling sex. Young people selling sex might need guidance in relationship building as well as help processing traumatic experiences and ending self-harming behavior. Further studies are needed on the functions of online sex selling and on the exit process for young people, in order to prevent entrance and facilitate exiting.Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics 02/2015; 6:17-27. DOI:10.2147/AHMT.S77324
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ABSTRACT: Sexual activity online may result in positive experiences for young people, or lead them to engage in risky behaviours possibly resulting in sexual assault or abuse. The aim of our study was to investigate associations between online sexual behaviours among Swedish youth and background factors as well as aspects of well-being. The behaviours investigated were: having sex online with a contact met online, having sex with an online contact offline, posting sexual pictures online, and selling sex online. We used data from a representative sample of 3,432 Swedish youth who were asked about their lifetime experiences as well as their experiences within the previous year. We hypothesized that more advanced online sexual behaviours were associated with more problematic background factors, worse psychosocial well-being and riskier behaviours in general. Bivariate relationships were evaluated followed by a multiple logistic regression model. Our data suggested that most Swedish youth do not perform any of the assessed online sexual behaviours. Young people who reported online sexual behaviour showed a more problematic background, rated their health as poorer, had a more sexualized life and had experienced more sexual or physical abuse. Professionals who work with young people need to help them better evaluate potential risks online and offer support when needed. Youths who sell sex online are especially at risk and need extra attention, as they might be in greater need of protection and therapeutic support.European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 01/2015; DOI:10.1007/s00787-015-0673-9 · 3.55 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The study investigated the differences between high school boys and girls in: (1) the use of pornography, (2) sexual experiences, (3) experience of sexual abuse, and (4) perceptions of sexuality and pornography. It also examined the possible predictors of experiencing sexual activities, such as sex, sociodemographic factors (high school program, household, and ethnic background), pornography consumption, experience of sexual abuse, perception of sexuality, and perception of pornography. A population-based classroom survey of 16-year-old boys (n = 477) and girls (n = 400) from 53 randomly selected high school classes in 2 towns in mid-Sweden. Almost all boys (96%, n = 453) and 54% of the girls (n = 213) had watched pornography. Regardless of sex, pornography consumers had a positive perception of pornography. There were no differences between pornography-consuming boys and girls regarding fantasies, and they had attempted sexual acts inspired by pornography. A higher proportion of girls (15%) than boys (6%) had experienced sexual abuse. Predictors for being sexually experienced (oral sex, intercourse, and anal sex) included: being a girl, attending a vocational high school program, living with separated parents, having experience of sexual abuse, stating that boys and girls are equally interested in sex, and having a positive perception of pornography (Adj. R = 0.166). Boys had more experience of and a more positive perception of pornography, but there were only a few differences between boys and girls in the pornography-consumer group. Girls were more sexually experienced than boys. A positive perception of pornography predicted being sexually experienced.Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics: JDBP 04/2014; 35(3):179-88. DOI:10.1097/DBP.0000000000000034 · 2.12 Impact Factor