Sexual Exploitation of Children

Sexual exploitation of children refers a form of abuse where people younger than the age of 18 are forced or manipulated into engaging in sexual practices. It can occur in the form of consensual relationship or done in return for financial or other favors (Pickett, et al., 2013). Sexual exploitation of children affects both boys and girls, and devastating effects are inflicted on both genders. However, the current trend indicates that the public seems to put emphasis on the girl child exploitation and to neglect the sexual exploitation of the young boys. Consequently, sexual exploitation of children seems to escalate. Governments are setting legislations to prevent child abuse, in a move to curb the menace. Therefore, the purpose of this literature review is to explore the available literature relating to sexual exploitation of children to establish the scope of the problem, the past, and present trends, the effectiveness of the judiciary in dealing with child exploitation cases and any possible measures to implement.


According to Stoltenborgh et al. (2011), sexual exploitation of children is taking place in all socio-economic classes, age groups, genders, ethnic groups, religions, and races. In addition to these grouping, specific family and community culture may escalate the problem of child sexual abuse. The impacts include risk behaviors, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and alcoholism. One in 10 children in the United States undergoes sexual abuse before the age of 18, 50% if which face it before 12 years age. In the same way, one in 25 children is sexually exploited on the Internet. Children between ages of 12 and fourteen are more susceptible to human trade.

The author provides basic information about the scope of sexual exploitation of children to remove any stereotypes. Basing on the statistics sexual exploitation takes place within a wide age gap, slimming the chances of a child escaping it. In the same way, the fact that sexual exploitation occurs in almost all societies increases its prevalence. However, some societies engage in child exploitation before the age of 10, in contrast with the author.

Historical Context

According to Reid (2011), societal grooming of child sexual abuse is the primary cause of difficulty in tracking and executing the perpetrators of sexual exploitation of children. In the past, the society made it apparent that sexual abuse is a female problem and therefore the victims are girls. Boys and young men have shunned reporting such cases because of the fear of societal stigmatization. In the same way, female culprits are not prosecuted since they are regarded as not capable of engaging in these acts.

From the research, it is evident that courts and societies have historically battled sexual exploitation of children without exploring all sources. The author brings light into the consideration of both male and female victims and perpetrators, a move that will withy no doubt curb the menace (Alvarez & Alessi, 2012).

Current Issues

Mitchell et al. (2011), states that the major problem facing child protection against sexual exploitation today is its incorporation with unavoidable services in the economy. The online platforms have become primary sources of sexual exploitation since all children are socializing on social media platforms. The judicial system has a difficult time to decide web-based crimes due to the insufficiency of evidence.

The author adds knowledge concerning the involvement of the internet in exploitation cases. After the case of Amanda Todd, it became clear that cyber bullying has an as much devastating impact and physical exploitation (Alvarez & Alessi, 2012). Therefore, the author bridges the past and modern exploitation platforms.

Effectiveness of the Criminal Justice

The respective states are enacting regulations to reduce the extent of sexual exploitation of children. States like Washington have passed the Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5563, which relates to the training of school employees on how to prevent sexual abuse (Nobles et al., 2012). On the other hand, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice are reaffirming the states to protect the rights of children. The political involvement in child abuse seems to make it difficult to meet the goals since the victims are sometimes treated as criminals.

The criminal justice system is the baseline of attaining justice for child exploitation offenses. Therefore, the author develops awareness on the strategic plans that have been set to take care of the cases. However, the non-uniform distribution of where their legislations are being implemented is making it hard to find justice. Additionally, the bailing and bond system offered to criminals charged with sexual exploitation of children is making a big percentage to escape (Mancini, 2013).

The Extent criminological Literature and Recommendation

From the above literature, it is evident that sex exploitation of children has become a point of concern for many criminology researchers. Despite the abolition of slave trade, sexual exploitation of children seems to reconstruct the situation of the slave trade. Research is helping to address the prevalence of the issue, educating the public and possible ways of reducing the trends (Pickett et al., 2013). The problem can be addressed through public education at the family level, implementing public policies and redesigning the court system to offer serious punishment for sex crimes. Future research should focus on a global perspective of sexual exploitation of children and how it can be eradicated, which out lead to the reduction of the negative impacts of child exploitation.


Based on the above literature review, researchers have increased awareness about the percentage of children affected by sexual abuse, eradication of the stereotypes about gender and sexual abuse, and how the criminal justice system is achieving the goal of preventing the vice. The current research is mostly regional, which makes it inefficient in addressing the sexual exploitation of children globally. Taking a global perspective would provide a better chance of attaining the required results. Therefore extensive research in sexual exploitation of children would make it easier to attain the development goals relating to criminal justice.




Alvarez, M. B., & Alessi, E. J. (2012). Human trafficking is more than sex trafficking and prostitution: Implications for social work. Affilia, 27(2), 142-152.

Mancini, C., Barnes, J. C., & Mears, D. P. (2013). It varies from state to state: An examination of sex crime laws nationally. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 24(2), 166-198.

Mitchell, K. J., Jones, L. M., Finkelhor, D., & Wolak, J. (2011). Internet-facilitated commercial sexual exploitation of children: Findings from a nationally representative sample of law enforcement agencies in the United States. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 23(1), 43-71.

Nobles, M. R., Levenson, J. S., & Youstin, T. J. (2012). The effectiveness of residence restrictions in preventing sex offense recidivism. Crime & Delinquency, 58(4), 491-513.

Pickett, J. T., Mancini, C., & Mears, D. P. (2013). Vulnerable victims, monstrous offenders, and unmanageable risk: Explaining public opinion on the social control of sex crime. Criminology, 51(3), 729-759.

Reid, J. A. (2011). An exploratory model of girl’s vulnerability to commercial sexual exploitation in prostitution. Child Maltreatment, 16(2), 146-157.

Stoltenberg, M., van IJzendoorn, M. H., Euser, E. M., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (2011). A global perspective on child sexual abuse: a meta-analysis of prevalence around the world. Child Maltreatment, 16(2), 79-101.

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