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Associations between childhood maltreatment and sex work in a cohort of drug-using youth



Although research has examined the impacts of childhood maltreatment among various marginalized populations, few studies have explored the relationship between child abuse and subsequent involvement in sex work among drug-using street-involved youth. In the present study, the relationships between the level of childhood maltreatment and involvement in sex work were examined using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) as part of an extensive interview protocol in an ongoing prospective cohort study of street-involved youth in Vancouver, Canada. Between September 2005 and June 2006, 361 youth were recruited using extensive outreach methods and snowball sampling. The prevalence rates for abuse in the sample were 73% for physical abuse; 32.4% for sexual abuse; 86.8% for emotional abuse; 84.5% for physical neglect; and 93% for emotional neglect. Univariate and logistic regression analyses demonstrated that not only was sexual abuse independently associated with sex work, but emotional abuse was as well. These findings have implications for early intervention efforts aimed at vulnerable, high-risk youth populations as well as intervention strategies for active sex trade workers.

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