In the present study, we examined perceptions of domestic minor sex trafficking victims based on the race and age of the victim using a mock juror paradigm. We hypothesized that participants exposed to Black victims and older victims would yield fewer pro-victim judgments, including fewer guilty verdicts and lower victim credibility. Likewise, we hypothesized there would be an interaction between victim race and age where the older Black victims would yield the fewest pro-victim judgments, and the younger White victims would yield the most. Additionally, we anticipated that participants with colder feelings toward younger teens on a feelings thermometer measure would hold more negative perceptions of the younger victims, and those with colder feelings toward older teens would hold more negative perceptions of the older victims. Participants (N = 146) read a mock sex trafficking trial summary that depicted a victim as a girl who was either a Black 17-year-old, a White 17-year-old, a Black 13-year-old, or a White 13-year-old and was trafficked by an adult man. The results indicated that while participants had similar pro-victim judgments regardless of victim age or race, participants were significantly more likely to view the White 17-year-old victim condition as more similar to a typical prostitution case than any other victim condition. We discuss findings with regard to their legal and social implications, such as law enforcement and layperson identification of sex trafficking cases.
Dr. Nesa Wasarhaley, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Melissa Brandon, Committee Member
Dr. Sandra Neargarder, Committee Member
Donovan, Shaelyn. (2023). The Impact of Age and Race on Impressions of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Victims. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 606. Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/606
Copyright © 2023 Shaelyn Donovan