The JuST (Juvenile Sex Trafficking) Response presentation brings together Shared Hope International’s research on services for juvenile sex trafficking victims with its analysis of state statutory protective responses. By combining research on these vital aspects of the child sex trafficking issue we seek to invigorate the important discussion of how to end criminalization of commercially sexually exploited youth, identify and respond to child trafficking victims and expand their access to appropriate service options.
For five years, Shared Hope International has completed statutory analysis of each state’s protective response laws under the Protected Innocence Challenge, a comprehensive study of state laws that is designed to inspire and equip advocates and motivate legislators and leaders to ensure every state has a minimum legal framework to combat child sex trafficking and protect the victims. Under the Challenge, there are six areas of law that must be addressed at the state level to effectively respond to the crime of domestic minor sex trafficking. Through in-depth statutory analysis, the laws of each state and the District of Columbia are assessed and a Report Card with a grade is provided annually to each state. The most complex area of law analyzed under the Protected Innocence Challenge relates to the protections for child victims.
While the Protected Innocence Challenge looks at “black letter law” to assess state efforts, the National Restoration Initiative focuses on implementation of service responses by bringing focus to the development of shelter and service options that, to date, have been inconsistent and minimally documented. To help achieve a consistent standard of care and build upon current promising practices, Shared Hope has hosted three national forums focused on service provision (2012), on child serving agency process (2013) and on statute implementation (2014). Each brought together stakeholders in shelter and services, child welfare and juvenile and family courts, policy development and survivor-leadership. Topics addressed included shelter and safety, immunity from prostitution or related charges, facility licensing, trauma-informed care, multidisciplinary teams, assessment and interagency cooperation.
At the intersection of these research projects is the JuST Response Project. The JuST Response presentation will explore the variety of approaches to establishing a state protective system response through statutes, protocols and services as informed by field research conducted for the JuST Response State Systems Mapping Report. The presentation will compare state protective system responses and protocols that ensure statewide implementation of protective models. Furthermore, it will highlight service provision models that exemplify elements of the holistic, multi-agency, collaborative approach essential to identifying and responding to juvenile sex trafficking victims regardless of the path they take to services. In light of recently enacted federal legislation that requires states to enact laws that allow child victims of sex trafficking to avoid delinquency and detention in favor of services, this challenging issue will be relevant for a broad range of agencies and service providers.
Versions of this presentation have been given at a meeting of the Kansas State Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force, a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, the Indiana University McKinney Law School Fellowship Symposium, “In our Backyard,” the Kentucky Ending Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Conference, the 31st Annual National Child Advocacy Centers Conference, Breaking Free’s Demand Change Summit, the American Association of Child Residential Treatment Shelters Annual Conference, as the keynote presentation for both the 2015 Florida Human Trafficking Summit and the Children at Risk Annual Human Trafficking Summit and as a congressional briefing for the Victims’ Rights Caucus. Although a relatively new project, JuST Response is founded on years of research, including two Colloquium reports, the Protected Innocence Challenge, the National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, The United States Mid-Term Review on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in America, the DEMAND. Report, and new research materials as they are developed.