An Examination of Trauma Symptoms Among Children and Adolescents From Two Red-Light Areas in Mumbai, India
Methods:In-person survey interviews were conducted with: i) 64 shelter-based children (aged 13-17 years) whose mothers are currently prostituting or have ever prostituted; ii) 47 community- based children(aged 13-17years) whose mothers are currently prostituting or have ever prostituted; and iii) 22 community-based children(aged 13-17years) whose mothers have never prostituted. Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants for this study. A vernacular language version of the Trauma Symptoms Checklist for Children (TSCC) was administered verbally by the Principal Investigator as part of a larger data collection package assessing exposure to violence and presence of factor promoting resilience among the participants. For the purpose of analysis, cross-tabulations, analysis of co-variance and logistic regression were conducted.
Results: Analysis of co-variance with under-reporting as the covariate suggested that community based children of ever prostituted women reported more clinical/subclinical symptoms than community-based children of women who had never prostituted. Shelter and community based children of ever prostituted women did not differ in their endorsement of clinical/subclinical vs. nonclinical trauma symptoms. However, the shelter based group had more children who reported clinical significance on at least one sub-dimension. Analysis of co-variance of the group t-scores with under-reporting as the covariate confirmed that community- based children of ever-prostituted women reported significantly higher mean scores on Anxiety and Depression scales than community- based children of non-prostituting women. The TSCC contains 8 critical items pertaining to self-harm, expectation of sexual maltreatment, suicidality, fears (of men women and being killed) and anger. These critical items were endorsed in highest frequency by community based children of ever prostituted women followed by shelter-based children.
Conclusion and implications: A linear process is apparent with community-based children of ever prostituted women faring the worst, shelter-based children faring marginally better than the former but worse than community- based children of never prostituted women. These findings indicate that community-based children of ever prostituted women are at higher risk for negative mental health outcomes than community- based children of never prostituted women. Shelter-based children are experiencing some benefits from decreased exposure to violence in the community/family and/or services being provided at the shelters. Services that work at individual level to assess identify and address mental health needs of children of ever prostituted women are urgently needed. Programs aimed at building peer and community level support systems for promoting mental and emotional wellbeing may be helpful.