According to studies from the State Policy Advocacy Center and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, up to 80% of children/youth who are currently or formerly under foster care become victims of sex trafficking. The number deviates from city to city, state to state, but it is never acceptable that at some point, eight in ten children in foster care suffer this horrendous experience.
Eva Klain is the Director of the American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and Law and she’s joining today’s Justice Clearinghouse webinar to discuss child sex trafficking. Eva spent a majority of her fruitful career in the legal field studying the myriad of issues relating to children and youth including child abuse, family violence, child sex trafficking, and exploitation, among others.
Eva deep dives on the issue of domestic child sex trafficking, specifically of those under the care of the child welfare system. She also clarifies the legal framework from which child sex trafficking cases are deliberated. Some of the specific points Eva presented in this course include:
- A short video excerpt from the documentary Playground: The Child Sex Trade in America, that provides an overview of the circumstances that surround a sex trafficking victims’ life.
- The definition of sex trafficking as specified in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
- Debunking myths and presenting facts related to child sex trafficking.
- Factors on an individual, relational, communal and societal level that makes children more prone to become child sex trafficking victims which includes:
- Family dysfunction and history of abuse or neglect that can lead the child/youth to run away, get thrown-away, be homeless and end up in foster care
- Not fitting into social norms (e.g., LGBT, abused) that subjects them to peer pressure, discrimination and isolation, and/or less-than-ideal social involvement (gangs, drugs)
- Lack of awareness and resources to keep children/youth from exploitation
- Statistics surrounding sex trafficking including frequencies of cases, age and race of youth in sex trade, history and characteristics correlated to victimization, and links between sex trade and other felony crimes.
- An overview of what trauma is and how it affects children/youth’s behavior and coping mechanisms.
- Understanding how knowledge of trauma-informed advocacy can result in better relationships between the child/youth and the professionals who assist them in their cases.
- The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183) that was devised to:
- Help with identifying children and youth at risk of trafficking
- Streamline reporting of sex trafficking cases
- Create calibrated and comprehensive sex trafficking reports that are provided to the Congress and made available to the public
- Inform the system and provide insights necessary to design needed response
- Raise awareness and increase information about children in foster care and preventing sex trafficking
- Design an effective locate and respond system for runaways
- The National Council of Juvenile Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) and National Council for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) as the two main agencies that ensure protocols and legalities related to sex trafficking cases are followed.
- Safe Harbor Laws that look at ways to change the mentality so that children who have been trafficked are viewed as victims rather than offenders.
- A study conducted by the ABA that provides insights on Safe Harbor Laws and Domestic Child Sex Trafficking.
- Poll questions checked the webinar attendees’ role in trafficking cases and their perception of the factors that put youth at risk of trafficking.
- Some of the specifics Eva expounded on the Q&A involve:
- Building trust to empower children under foster care to report abuses
- Role of casa volunteers in looking out for the best interest of the victim
- Reports released that contains information on preventing trafficking
- Advocating Safe Harbor laws through coalitions and outreach
- Raising community awareness on the issue of child sex trafficking
- IOM/NRC, Confronting commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States
- Vera Institute, Screening for Human Trafficking, Out of the Shadows
- One of the many screening tools available
- ABA/JLC, The Role of the Court in Implementing the Older Youth Provisions of the Strengthening Families Act
- NCJFCJ/NCMEC, Missing Children, State Care, and Child Sex Trafficking
- Center for Court Innovation, Youth Involvement in the Sex Trade