New Report: Sex Trafficking and Exploitation of Minors in the United States
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 9:20 AM

The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council have released a report regarding commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of minors in the United States.  The report states that these issues are forms of child abuse, and minors who are prostituted or sexually exploited should be treated as victims and survivors of abuse and violence, rather than arrested as they currently are in many states.
The report recommends laws and policies that divert these victims away from arrest and prosecution and toward services and agencies that can provide support to them.  A small number of states have enacted such “safe harbor” laws. These laws are designed to recognize minors who are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking as victims of exploitation and provide support services, instead of exposing them to the criminal or juvenile justice system. The report also recommends raising awareness, including training and public campaigns, and strengthening laws that hold exploiters, traffickers, and solicitors accountable for their roles.  Overall, prevention efforts in the U.S. are largely absent, and communities lack the knowledge and tools to identify and respond to youth who are currently victims or who are at risk of becoming victims. The report suggests that better collaborative approaches are needed to identify, prevent, and respond to this type of exploitation.