The Use of Facebook by Adolescent Girls and Its Implications for the Domestic Sex Trafficking of Minors

Open Access
Author:
Dutill, Megan Grace
Area of Honors:
Advertising/Public Relations
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Marcia W Distaso, Thesis Supervisor
  • Susan Mary Strohm, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Facebook
  • adolescents
  • girls
  • teen girls
  • sex trafficking
  • human trafficking
  • DMST
  • social media
Abstract:
The purpose of this study is to research both the type and quantity of information publicly shared by adolescent girls on Facebook, specifically looking for the high-risk behaviors and vulnerabilities targeted by pimps recruiting their next victim of domestic minor sex trafficking. A detailed codebook was developed and the publicly available Facebook profiles of 400 teenage girls in the Tampa Bay, Fla. area were coded accordingly. Frequency tests, bi-variate correlations and one-way ANOVAS were run to analyze the data and detect patterns and significant relationships. The study found that a majority of girls displayed provocative behaviors and openness/emotional availability, nearly half engaged in other high-risk behaviors such as swearing or evidence of alcohol, drugs or family dysfunction, and one quarter displayed low self-esteem. A significant relationship was found between each of those three variables, indicating that girls who are vulnerable in one area tend to be vulnerable in several different areas. A significant relationship was found between the privacy level and the degree of openness and emotional availability displayed. Significant relationships were also found between the number of friends and low-self esteem as well as the number of friends and the degree of openness and emotional availability displayed. Finally, this study recommends specific behaviors for teens and their parents and suggestions for fostering awareness of domestic minor sex trafficking in social media.