Socio-Emotional Projective Themes of Adolescents Involved in Prostitution
Within the past decade, the sexual exploitation of children in the United States has received a significant amount of press and has become increasingly scrutinized by the general public along with professionals. In spite of heightened public awareness, the nature of child prostitution is largely misunderstood. For this study, projective personality tests were used to identify salient psychoemotional themes through grounded theory and codebook analysis. The most frequently emerging themes were Insecure Attachment, Interpersonal Anger and Conflict, and Fear. Clinical markers from the self-report rating scales, however, were not congruent with the projective themes. These findings suggest that self-report measures are not the ideal indicator of clinical symptomology in this population. More importantly, the identified clinical themes suggest a saliency for relationality within this population. These 3 major themes indicate that relational anxiety is the context through which these participants view the world and interpret their relationships and environments. This counters and expands upon much of the literature. Although the literature indicates trauma as a key identifier for this population, this study brings insecure attachment to the foreground as the most significant clinical theme and experience for the participants. The study’s qualitative nature and low n carry inherent limitations in regard to generalizability. A better understanding of a child involved in prostitution should be able to guide clinical interventions, which would ultimately impact the advocacy and aid for this population as a whole. Culture as a whole additionally needs to be held accountable for how culture perpetuates the existence of child prostitution by engaging more intentionally with culture and society as a whole.
PSYD in Clinical Psychology
Emotions, Teenagers, Sex, Prostitution, Popular culture
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