Assisting Child Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Dr. Jay Albanese, Rachel Lloyd  -  2008/9/10
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
I am currently in school working towards a degree in Admin of Justice with my emphasis being on child exploitation crimes. I want to work directly with victims of these crimes. Is there a resource out there where I can find non-profits such as GEMS or Children of the Night (based in California) in which to possibly get involved with?
 
1.  Jay Albanese
 One more thought:The Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) has an Online Directory of Crime Victim Services, a resource designed to help service providers and individuals locate crime victim service agencies in the United States and abroad. It is categorized by location and type of victim services. It is located at http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/findvictimservices - This might be a good place to begin your search!
 
2.  Rachel
 Unfortunately there's not one main forum that would list all the non-profits involved in the issue. The field is growing and new organizations and projects looking to address this issue are surfacing frequently. I would encourage you to continue to research on-line and to apply directly to organizations that seem like a good fit. Good luck!
 
 
Is this problem a local (U.S.) issue, or is it more of an international problem finding its way into the U.S.?
 
1.  Jay Albanese
 Commerical Sexual Exloitation of Children (CSEC) is both a local and an international problem. In the U.S., one estimate claims that at least half of those involved in CSEC are local, 25 may be tied to city-wide groups, 15 regional or national networks, and 10 percent tied internationally. These are broad estimates, however, limited by the fact that there is much more CSEC occurring than we currently know about.
 
 
Are there any materials or curricula that have been developed to teach children to be aware of commercial sexual exploitation? Or should prevention be directed towards adults?
 
1.  Rachel
 The Home for Little Wanderers in Boston has a great curriculum - My Life, My Choice aimed at educating girls on CSEC. GEMS will be releasing our youth-produced video Breaking the Silence and curriculum in the next few months also.
 
 
Are there any federal/state statutes that address CSE?
 
1.  Jay Albanese
 Yes, there are a number of them. A number of recent federal laws increased the penalties for sex offenses involving children. These include: *The Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998. *The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 added sex trafficking of children as a Federal offense with penalties of up to life in prison. *The Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003 increased penalties for first time offenders producing child pornography and also U.S. citizens who travel abroad to engage in sex with a minor. *The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 increased mandatory minimum prison terms for child prostitution, sex abuse, sex trafficking of children and distribution of child pornography. This act eliminated the statute of limitations for most child sex offenses.
 
 
In the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report, countries are categorized based on a progressive tier scale, ranking their efforts to protect trafficking victims, prosecute traffickers, and prevent the trafficking in person. Since its initial publication in 2001, several countries are continually ranked as Tier 3 countries as they are not actively combating labor and sexual exploitation. In consequence, the United States has suspended non-humanitarian and trade-related aid, and placed Tier 3 countries under the threat of sanction. How can we persuade Tier 3 countries to pursue anti-trafficking initiatives when they are already under sanction for matters unrelated to human trafficking?
 
1.  Jay Albanese
 Good question! Carrots often work better than sticks and, as you may know, human (esp. child/women) trafficking is closely tied to related social and cultural problems. These include the role/status of women and children in a country, poor public education about the nature of the risks involved, and gross imbalance in the domestic labor market (pushing people elsewhere). Therefore, activities which promote equitable labor opportunities, public education, and laws & enforcement of regulations to improve the status of women/children are likely to impact human trafficking as well. The UNODC, USAID, and a number of NGOs are actively involved in these efforts around the world.
 
 
How are new technologies being used to prevent and track those who exploit children? Are there any innovations?
 
1.  Jay Albanese
 Yes, technology is the key to detecting communication among CSEC offenders and in their sharing of pornographic images and videos using exploited children. For example, in May of this year a San Francisco resident who had worked as a radio station talk show host, was sentenced today to 87 months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, after pleading guilty to distributing child pornography through the Internet. According to the plea documents, the defendant admitted that he used an online screen name to engage in an Internet chat conversation with an unknown person also using a screen name. During that conversation, he admitted that he sent an image of child pornography depicting nude children engaged in sexually explicit conduct via his e-mail account. He also admitted that he used the same e-mail account to distribute 15 to 150 images of child pornography to other individuals. These images involved prepubescent children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, some with sadistic, masochistic or violent conduct. So between e-mail tracking, file-sharing, and undercover police on-line, technlogy is playing a significant role in CSEC cases.
 
 
Can you tell us about risk factors and protective factors for children and commercial sexual exploitation?
 
1.  Rachel
 It's important to note that any child can be at risk for CSEC, particularly in an age where children can be recruited online. However, there are definitely factors that have been documented to increase risk, especially prior sexual abuse, poverty, running away and homelessness, prior abuse and neglect, and involvement with the child welfare system. In addition to individual risk factors, that make children and youth so vulnerable to recruiters, environmental factors including pre-exisiting adult sex industry in their community and transient males, also increase these risks. Add to these risks, societal factors including sexism, racism and the glorification of the sex industry and pimp culture and there becomes almost a 'perfect storm' of factors that heighten a child's vulnerability to recruitment.
 
 
Rachel, I understand that you found support from a church when you lived in Germany. I'm curious as to whether your program partners with local faith organizations to provide similiar support to the teens you serve.
 
1.  Rachel
 Yes, we work with various faith organizations and other service providers to ensure that the girls and young women we serve are afforded a variety of options for their recovery.
 
 
Telephone hotlines are waning in popularity among young people. What are the most common means of contacting young people who are survivors of trafficking, and how can service providers adjust in order to be more accessible to this population?
 
1.  Rachel
 This is a great question as it really does address the need for the field to remain current and continually adjust as technology changes the way that children are bought and sold. It's something that we continually wrestle with at GEMS. That said, we've found that children and youth are still being sold on the street and therefore street outreach is a priority for organizations addressing this issue. However, the advent of Craigslist etc has meant that a vast amount of CSEC is happening online, which is challenging to address. One thing that's important to remember however is that many of these children and youth ARE coming into contact with various systems, (law enforcement, healthcare, juvenile justice, social services) so reaching out to youth in foster care, detention etc has proven to be a really effective way of reaching children/youth who've been exploited. In addition, training these systems and equipping them with the sensitivity and capacity to identify signs of exploitation and intervene effectively is critical.
 
 
We have just begun a new program of providing focused medical care to juvenile victims of trafficking. I am looking for any resources you may suggest to aid with developing a procedure to assess and evaluate health risk behaviors.
 
1.  Jay
 I do not have specific information for you, but there are two sources that might be useful. First, a recent report form an NIJ-funded study has some good information: Elzbieta Gozdziak and Micah N. Bump, Victims No Longer: Research on Child Survivors of Trafficking for Sexual and Labor Exploitation in the United States, Final Report (2008). (NCJ 221891 available through NCJRS.gov). Several emerging themes within the realm of solutions and resolutions are identified; however, the ultimate solution is related to prevention and eradication of child trafficking. Recommendations presented in working toward solutions and resolutions include: (1) the need to earmark development resources to establish high quality educational programs in order to reduce child labor and prevent child trafficking; (2) the need for continued monitoring and assessments of both national and international initiatives to reduce child labor; (3) the need to shift away from monitoring industries and workplaces employing children to the monitoring of children removed from work; and (4) the need to enhance collaboration between actors in source and destination countries interested in reducing child labor and preventing child trafficking. Human trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labor is one of the fastest growing areas of criminal activity. This report is based on findings from a 12-month study undertaken by the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) and the Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) to examine patterns of abuse of child victims of trafficking, explore the challenges faced by service providers assisting child victims, and examine ways to integrate child survivors of trafficking into society. The research focuses on the cohort of child victims receiving services through foster care and unaccompanied refugee minors (URM) programs. It analyzed patterns of victimization before emancipation as well as post-emancipation experiences of child survivors within the United States Federal system of care. Second, a study I read recent from the Netherlands had useful research-practice implications. Perhaps you would find it intreresting http://heapro.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/22/1/5
 
 
Where can an investigative unit get more training on interviewing the vicitm's of these crimes?
 
1.  Lynn S.
 In Missouri, we have been able to attend a number of trainings by the FBI on sexual abuse, interviewing child victims, and testifying in court. You might check with you local FBI office to see if they offer training in your area.
 
2.  Jay Albanese
 A good place to look might be with the human trafficking task forces, which are now located around the country--linking law enforcement with victim services in order to maximize both the likelihood of success in helping the victim and success in prosecuting traffickers. There are now more than 30 of these task forces in places including Washington, D.C.; Hawaii; Boston, Mass.; Suffolk County, N.Y.; New Jersey; Nassau County, N.Y.; San Jose, Calif.; Saint Paul, Minn.; Lee County, Fla.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Multnomah County, Ore. (and other cities as well). Three new task forces will be established in Westminster, Calif.; Homestead, Fla; and Pitt County, N.C.
 
 
Commercial sex exploitation is both an international and domestic problem. Runaway children are tricked into sexual exploitation, and they might be imprisoned neighbhorhoods away from their home. my question is, is there different treatment or protocol for assisting international and domestic victims?
 
1.  Rachel
 To add to this- while there are obviously different cultural and legal needs for international vs domestic victims (and also recognizing that cultural and gender-specific needs will vary even within the domestic population)- one of the challenges in the field has been in the distinction between international victims as trafficked and domestic victims as child/teen prostitutes. These distinctions lead to a difference in treatment and protocol- ( note that in many states children are arrested for an act of prostitution even though they are under the age of consent) and in empathy for domestic victims who are frequently seen as willing participants in their victimization. While its critical to ensure that treatment of victims is relevant to their needs and situation, its also important to recognize that domestic victims need the same level of care, services, and empathy as their international counterparts.
 
2.  Jay Albanese
 Yes, there are often distinct needs of non-U.S. victims relating to their legal status in the U.S. and their status as unaccompanied refugee minors. A recent NIJ study addressed this problem directly. It is: Elzbieta Gozdziak and Micah N. Bump, Victims No Longer: Research on Child Survivors of Trafficking for Sexual and Labor Exploitation in the United States, Final Report (2008). (NCJ 221891 available through NCJRS.gov). Several emerging themes within the realm of solutions and resolutions are identified; however, the ultimate solution is related to prevention and eradication of child trafficking. Recommendations presented in working toward solutions and resolutions include: (1) the need to earmark development resources to establish high quality educational programs in order to reduce child labor and prevent child trafficking; (2) the need for continued monitoring and assessments of both national and international initiatives to reduce child labor; (3) the need to shift away from monitoring industries and workplaces employing children to the monitoring of children removed from work; and (4) the need to enhance collaboration between actors in source and destination countries interested in reducing child labor and preventing child trafficking. Human trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labor is one of the fastest growing areas of criminal activity. Supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (NIJ), this report is based on findings from a 12-month study undertaken by the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) and the Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) to examine patterns of abuse of child victims of trafficking, explore the challenges faced by service providers assisting child victims, and examine ways to integrate child survivors of trafficking into society. The research focuses on the cohort of child victims receiving services through foster care and unaccompanied refugee minors (URM) programs. By analyzing patterns of victimization before emancipation as well as post-emancipation experiences of child survivors within the United States Federal system of care. The project attempts to expand the knowledge base of the special service needs of child victims of trafficking, enhance treatment modalities, provide an understanding of repeat victimization, and take steps to prevent it in the future.
 
 
What do you view as the most important needs of these children, and how can we best meet those needs? In particular, what financial resources are available to provide services?
 
1.  Rachel
 In addition to addressing the critical, practical needs including housing and health-care and ensuring that all services are trauma-informed- it's important to remember that children/youth also need the opportunity to be children/youth. Creative arts therapy, opportunity for healthy reacreation, learning independent living-skills, developing positive peer networks, particularly with other survivors, relationships with healthy, consistent, committed adults, education on the socio-political context of what they've experienced and being empowered to have an opportunity to create change. These are all critical milestones for childadolescent development and crucial for CSEC survivors too.
 
2.  Jay Albanese
 Children, of course, have greater needs than adults. Oftentimes, their victimization has occurred, or been compounded, through the actions of adults and relatives through active paticipation or lack of supervision. Needs include: physical protection (from potential harm or threats by others), physical health (exposure to STDs/HIV/physical abuse), mental health (in dealing with all that has occurred), and their living situation (where will they go once immediate needs have been addressed?). These are each significant issues, and victim service agencies must be very resourceful in piecing together funds. The U.S. Dept of Justice announced today at its annual human trafficking conference funding for more than 20 crime victim service agencies around the country to work with victims discovered by the human trafficking tasks forces. These funds are temporary, but it is showing some recognition of the funding problem.
 
 
Working with child victims of prostitution and crimes over the internet are very challenging. Often our traditional victim delivery services have not seemed to catch up with these often 'compliant victims'. Can you please identify promising practices in the field that work with these victims with more successful results for both long term and short term intervention. We are trying to develop better 'systems' for these victims in Los Angeles. Knowlege of other programs and research finding success would be very helpful in working with both child (and family) populations as we work on this issue. It would be great if victim compensation treated them like other victims as well.
 
1.  Rachel
 While I agree that this is challenging work, its also incredibly fruitful and rewarding. There is a little research on successful programming however there are promising practices and programs throughout the country. GEMS is a survivor-led program and therefore we advocate strongly for the involvement and leadership of survivors in this work, particularly in engaging with victims. We also recognize that recovery from CSEC is a complex and long-term process and that victims may struggle initially to leave their abuserstraffickers due to trauma-bonding. Any program or service designed to address these youth should be trauma-informed, and take into full account the severity of trauma that CSEC victims have experienced. In addition, at GEMS we also employ much of the research around positive youth development programming recognizing that CSEC victims need to develop their creative, interpersonal and leadership skills just as much as other youth do. GEMS has a 72 success rate in empowering girls and young women escape the commercial sex industry and therefore believe that creating a safe place, with comprehensive services that treats the youth as a whole person, can and does work.
 
 
It's well known that prostitutes (or prostituted persons) are usually female. Why haven't there been more efforts to crimininalize johns and pimps and shift towards a victim-centered perspective? We use this perspective when we assist child victims of sexual exploitation.
 
1.  Jay Albanese
 Excellent question. Prostution is a two-person offense, and the prostitute historically has received most attention under U.S. law. This is a cultural pattern which is slowly changing. Two examples: The Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003 increased penalties for U.S. citizens traveling abroad to engage in sexwith a minor. This was clearly aimed at predatory male behavior. In a different way, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today at its annual human trafficking conference that it will fund two studies (conducted by Abt Associates, Inc. and San Diego State University Research Foundation)to assess criminal justice strategies and collaborative programs across the country and internationally that focus on reducing the demand for commercial sex. This builds upon the success of the John's School effort in California. So there is at least some evidence of efforts to change the focus in dealing with prostitution.
 
 
A program to provide focused medical care to juvenile vitims of trafficking has recently been instituted in the sexual assault program I work in. What resources do you recommend for further education of our nurses?
 
1.  Alese Wooditch
 In reference to Rachel's response, I would see if Charity Networks, Inc., an NGO that works specifically with child trafficking victims, has any training opportunities. http://www.charitynetworkinc.org
 
2.  Rachel
 There's a comprehensive 2 volume book written by Dr Sharon Cooper and Dr Estes, among others entitled: Medical, Legal & Social Science Aspects of Child Sexual Exploitation - A Comprehensive Review of Pornography, Prostitution, & Internet Crimes. In addition, I'd recommend getting training from a service provider in your state who specializes in these issues if possible.
 
Return to Discussion