This article reports on the methodology and findings of a multi-year, multi-site evaluation that assessed the effectiveness of the Boston-based My Life My Choice (MLMC) program, which provides a multi-session psychoeducational group to girls who are identified as "at-disproportionate-risk" for commercial sexual exploitation (CSE).
Using a one-group longitudinal design, changes in participant behavior and CSE knowledge were measured at baseline (n = 354) upon group completion (n = 296), and 3 months after group completion (n = 241). The sample was 95 percent female-identified, 28 percent Black/African American, 26 percent White/non-Hispanic, 25 percent Hispanic/Latina, and 22 percent another race. The mean age of participants was 15.6 years old. Approximately 28 percent identified as bisexual, and 10 percent identified as lesbian, asexual, pansexual, or other. In multivariable-adjusted models, participants reported fewer episodes of sexually explicit behavior at follow up compared to baseline (relative risk [RR]: 0.52, 95 percent confidence interval [CI]: 0.37-0.72 at Follow-up 1, and 0.53, 95 percent CI: 0.35-0.82 at follow-up 2). Participants were 24 percent less likely to report dating abuse at follow-up 2 compared to baseline (p = .06). In addition, compared to baseline, participants were 40 percent more likely to have given help or information about CSE to a friend at follow-up 2, and participants demonstrated increased knowledge and awareness about CSE and its harms over the follow-up period. Although additional evaluation using a comparison group and long-term follow-up would increase confidence that observed changes are attributable to the group instead of other factors, results suggest that the MLMC curriculum may be effective in reducing the risk of CSE and improving other conditions for youth who are at disproportionate risk of CSE. (publisher abstract modified)