Research is a key area of work for ECPAT NZ given the lack of reliable Aotearoa-specific data on child sexual exploitation.

Victim Experience of Child Sexual Exploitation

Our current research project, funded by the Ministry of Justice, focuses on victim experience of child sexual exploitation.

It uses survey data, victim/survivor interviews and social worker experiences to build understanding of:

  • the context of victimisation in cases of abuse with a transactional component;
  • the context around disclosure of this abuse and decisions on whether/when to report;
  • role of technology in facilitating the abuse or exploitation;
  • perceived gaps in support services for victims of sexual exploitation and how this might impact both initial disclosure and decision to testify.

The timeframe for this research project is Dec 2023 to Dec 2024.

To participate in this research or learn more about the research design, please email our Engagement Facilitator, Anna, who is in charge of first contact and will be working with ECPAT’s Research and Specialist Advisor.

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is difficult to measure. however Aotearoa’s statistics around child abuse, family violence, youth suicide and other measures of child well-being all lead us to expect that our commercial sexual exploitation rates desperately need to be addressed.

Pacific Research

ECPAT NZ supported research into human trafficking and child sexual exploitation in the Pacific. This research was led by ECPAT international and found that 80% of surveyed frontline workers have come across cases of child sexual exploitation within their work in the Pacific. 

Human Trafficking Research Coalition

Since 2020, we have been engaging in research projects through the Human Trafficking Research Coalition (HTRC), of which we are a founding member. The HTRC is a national coalition of agencies established to collaboratively research aspects of Human Trafficking within Aotearoa. The Coalition’s most recent piece of research looked the discrepancies between the definition of child trafficking in the relevant international conventions and its definition in Aotearoa.

“Previous studies have shown that the prevalence rates of child sexual abuse among adolescent sex workers ranges from 40 to 60 percent, and this is likely to be a conservative statistic, given the inherent barriers to disclosure (Svensson et al, 2012; Cobbina & Oselin, 2011; Saphira and Herbert, 2004a; Silbert, 1981)”

(Thorburn, 2016)