Sexually exploited, or at-risk children and youth, often present with a range of mental health and other developmental and cognitive disabilities impacting their lives. Behaviors that accompany many mental health challenges impact success with family, peers and at school. These behaviors can be frustrating and misunderstood by professionals involved. It is important that professionals working with these children and youth recognize symptoms to decrease negative labelling and ensure children and youth are connected with appropriate resources.
* It is important professionals do not work out of their scope of practice providing counselling or therapy with sexually exploited children and youth, as this has the potential of causing harm.
Common Mental Health Issues faced by Sexually Exploited Youth:
- Learning Disabilities
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
- Schizophrenia and psychosis
- Chronic anxiety disorder and panic attacks
- Suicide attempts and suicide
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Substance Abuse Issues
(Saewyc et al., 2009)