Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

David Schweingruber


Human trafficking is a crime that has seen increased media awareness over the past few decades. However, the media's representations of human trafficking are very one-dimensional and sensationalized. This is problematic, because media representations have an influence on the perceptions of those who consume the media imagery. This study explores the way that media representations of human trafficking have influenced the perceptions criminal justice students have about human trafficking. Grounded theory was used to uncover that criminal justice student's perceptions are based on four narratives that create images that influence criminal justice student's perceptions. These narratives are: human trafficking is synonymous with sex trafficking, human trafficking victims are exclusively women and children, human trafficking is experienced by specific racial and ethnic groups and human trafficking victims are to blame for their victimization. These narratives are then investigated within the context of the 2008 film Taken, which was mentioned by 17 of the 20 participants interviewed, and was found to be important in shaping the perceptions of the participants about human trafficking.

Copyright Owner

Rebecca Lynn Haroldson



File Format


File Size

69 pages

Included in

Sociology Commons