My Life My Choice
A continuum of services aimed at preventing the commercial sexual exploitation of girls. Includes survivor mentoring for young victims, prevention groups, and training for youth service providers. Services are provided in birth and foster home settings, in residential care and in schools.
Type of intervention
Group work, mentoring
Target groups, level of prevention and subgroups
- Children and Young People (Victims) | Secondary prevention | Young People (12-17 years), Young Adult (18-20 years) | Female | Group work, mentoring | English, Spanish
- Children and Young People (Victims) | Tertiary prevention | Young People (12-17 years), Young Adult (18-20 years) | Female | Group work, mentoring | English, Spanish
Girls aged 12 -18 years who have been sexually exploited or are at high risk of being exploited.
My Life My Choice (MLMC), which is based in Boston, USA at the Justice Resources Institute. See www.fightingexploitation.org.
Mode and context of delivery
My Life My Choice (MLMC) provides a continuum of services to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in adolescent girls, spanning:
- CSEC prevention groups for vulnerable adolescent girls
- Survivor mentoring to young victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC)
- Professional training
Services are provided in the birth or adoptive family home, in residential and foster care settings and in schools.
Level/nature of staff expertise required
Exploitation prevention groups are co-facilitated by a clinician/licenced mental health expert working with a survivor of the commercial sex industry.
Mentors need to be survivors of CSEC and do not require a professional qualification. They require special training in mentoring and CSEC.
Intensity/extent of engagement with target group(s)
Survivor mentoring: mentors meet their mentees weekly for an average of one to two hours. Relationships between mentors and mentees last over a period of years on a case by case basis.
Prevention groups: are held weekly for 10 weeks and each session lasts for approx. 90 minutes.
Description of intervention
My Life My Choice (MLMC) has the following goals:
- To prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of girls by empowering them with knowledge and skills to reduce the risk of exploitation
- To increase the identification of girls who are being commercially sexually exploited by training service providers to recognise signs and know how to respond
- To decrease the number of girls being commercially sexually exploited by supporting victims as they exit exploitation and work to rebuild their lives
- To improve the community response to girls who have been commercially sexually exploited
- To improve practice nationally in relation to CSEC
They work with girls aged 12 -18 years who have been, are currently being or are deemed to be at high risk of commercial sexual exploitation because of their past trauma and/or abuse histories combined with behaviours such as frequent running away. They use learning from practice to inform their training of others.
Three main programmes are provided:
- Survivor mentoring: MLMC pairs survivor mentors with mentees to encourage their use of existing supports to exit the commercial sex industry. The mentor initially seeks to stabilise the girl's situation and provides continuing support, motivation and hope over time as she builds a new life.
- Prevention groups: a 10 session curriculum is used to prevent commercial sexual exploitation among vulnerable adolescent girls. They are run on a weekly basis for groups of 8-12 girls, in schools, residential group homes and other community settings. Groups teach at risk girls how to recognise and avoid recruitment tactics of pimps and find a path out of exploitation. They tackle attitudes and perceptions as well as building self-esteem. Interactive methods and journaling are used.
- Training for youth service providers: introductory and advanced training about the sex industry and its impact, risk factors/red flags and how to provide support are provided.
My Life My Choice (MLMC) has been reviewed by the California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, available at: www.cebc4cw.org/program/my-life-my-choice-mlmc.
There are no published peer-reviewed research studies or impact evaluations available currently. The model is recommended by the US Department of Justice and has been replicated in a number of States. The MLMC website describes examples of impact and influence, and is available at: www.fighhtingexploitation.org.
None currently available.
Address: 989 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Telephone: 001 617 779 2179
INFORMATION CORRECT AT OCTOBER 2020