Counselors’ Attitudes Toward Sex Trafficking: A Quantitative, National Analysis

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Pritchard, Kenn S

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East Carolina University


For more than 20 years, the pervasive problem of sex trafficking has garnered increasing attention in research, advocacy, and legislation. The cumulative research focuses on the trafficking of women and girls based on the less frequent trafficking of men and boys. Recent research has conceptualized multidimensional attitudes toward the sex trafficking of women and girls. The purpose of this current study is to extend the existing research by comparing counselors’ sex trafficking attitudes for any influence from the gender of the survivor or the gender of the counselor. Two forms of the Sex Trafficking Attitudes Scale (STAS) measured attitudes toward the sex trafficking of females and the sex trafficking of males. Stratified sampling provided the means to compare the STAS scores between male and female counselors. The population of this current study included counseling students enrolled in CACREP accredited graduate programs. Inadequate survey responses did not indicate random sampling of participants. The nonprobability sample included 83 participants. A 2 x 2 factorial MANOVA provided the answers to the research questions. Statistical significance was found where a counselor’s gender influenced the STAS subscales of Leaving, F (1,79) = 150.51, p = .004, ηp2 = .10, and Empathy, F (1,79) = 36.75, p = .039, ηp2 = .05. Influences on Knowledge, Awareness, Paternalism, and Efficacy were non-significant. Influences from a survivor’s gender and a survivor’s gender with dependence on a counselor’s gender were non-significant. Findings support that a counselor’s gender significantly influences their attitudes towards people being able to leave sex trafficking and their empathic reactions to sex trafficking. Findings also demonstrate that counselors’ paternalistic attitudes toward helping survivors were borderline favorable and similar for female and male counselors. These findings have implications for counseling practice, supervision, education, and future research.