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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A Critical discourse analysis of word choices surrounding ethnic identities of sexual exploitation victims and perpetrators in Canadian newspaper articles Heywood, Crystal


Language used in the media to depict sexually exploited youth reflects societal assumptions that manifest in the health and well-being of these young people. Using Critical discourse analysis (CDA), this study examined word choice usage in 144 Canadian newspaper articles, attending specifically to the ethnicity of the victims and the perpetrators of sexual exploitation. The purpose of the study was to examine how power placement and to gain insight into how society perceives those involved in the sexual exploitation of youth. This study utilized both quantitative and qualitative analysis strategies. The results of the CDA suggest that society identifies that the sexual exploitation of youth in Canada is a problem; however, for the most part, society is not intervening. The findings also illustrate that the ethnic identities of the victims of sexual exploitation are more frequently revealed than the perpetrators. The victims of abuse are often from minority ethnic backgrounds; however, youth from a number of countries have been exploited. The almost invisibility of the exploiters of abuse who represent positions of power and trust, and whose ethnic identities are Caucasian support the concept of white privilege being present in society’s view of the sexual exploitation of youth. The results of the CDA support the need for culturally safe and competent nursing interventions for both the victims and perpetrators of sexual exploitation.

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