OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Serving Child Victims of Sex Trafficking
Mollie Ring  -  2011/1/19
I work particularly with LGBTQ victims of violence and I'd like to know if there are any statistics on the number of LGBTQ identified youth among those exploited by sex trafficking. It seems to me that the numbers may be high given LGBTQ youth issues of abandonment, rejection and neglect by families and the number of runaways with in the population.
1.  Mollie Ring
 Hi Kelly,Unfortunately, I am not aware of any statistics on the number of LGBTQ youth who are sex trafficked. Here in San Francisco, we know these numbers are high for many of the reasons you have expressed. A critical component to our outreach strategy has been to partner with organizations that specialize in working with LGBTQ youth as well as homeless youth to teach service providers about the prevalence of this issue within their population andor help them understand how their clients experiences while on the street, meet the federal definition of human trafficking. For example, all of the boys we have served to date in our programs began as runawaysthrowaways from outside of the Bay Area because of their sexual orientation. When they arrived in our city, they were either approached by someone who wanted to exploit them, or engaged in survival sex (exchanging a place to sleep, food, clothing, etc. for sex) in order to survive. Some of these youth ended up in homeless youth shelters and because staff at those facilities were trained to identify human trafficking, SAGE received a referral to provide specialized services. Additionally, I can share that for many of our transgender clients as well as adult gay male clients, exploitation and abuse occurred early in life. All this is to say that we know it is prevalent but, as far as I know, it has not been documented statistically. A major gap to be sure.
Does anyone know of any federal funding to provide housing for CSEC victims? How does one go about getting this funding?
1.  Mollie Ring
 Hi Nikki,At the federal level, the primary funding sources for serving CSECs are OJJDP and OVC under the Department of Justice and as far as I know, these sources have not offered funding specifically for housing, though may cover housing among the range of needed services. SAGE at one point did operate a Safe House for Girls specifically for CSEC that was funded 3-ways by the City of San Francisco, the state of California, and the ACFD Foster Care Program (Title IVE of the Social Security Act) which is federal. Sadly, this program is no longer funded and we had to close our Safe House. Other programs which have cropped up, such as C2BU (Courage 2BU) outside of Sacramento fundraised in order to open their facility and were immensely successful. As a side note, because many of our youth are already in the foster system, we rely heavily on group homes and foster care families for the housing of our children. This is not successful across the board, but a necessary partnership in order to improve rates of prevention and intervention.
2.  Patrice
 The Salvation Army in Chicago worked w the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in Chicago in obtaining DOJ funding to establish Anne's House, a long term, therapeutic home for female CSEC victims ages 12-21. Go to www.SAPROMISE.org for details. Link on right side of page re: Anne's HouseCCSAO press release w details. Hope this helps...
We are hearing alot of talk about this & some concern that young girls that have turned up missing in our area have been sold into underground markets in the Chicago area & overseas. How is it determined if this is actually a problem in your local area? We are concerned that this may just be a rumor-fueled response.
1.  Mollie Ring
 Hi AVAIL, Inc. While I am not familiar with your exact area, I can tell you that the issue of domestic minor human trafficking, or the selling of children (often, though not exclusively, young girls) into the commercial sex industry is a major issue nationwide. If you are coming from a more suburban or rural area, I can tell you that this is not an urban phenomenon. In the San Francisco Bay Area, we expanded our outreach to neighboring cities and counties. Referrals from these areas have skyrocketed and while some of these youth are recruited out of their hometowns and brought into neighboring San Francisco to be prostituted, others are brought on larger circuits covering San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Portland. I know that good work in being done in Chicago and would specifically refer you to one of our OVC funded partners the Salvation Army Metropolitan Division which is doing great work with this population. You might consider calling them to find out more about whether youth from your area are in fact turning up in their caseloads. All this said, I think the nationwide statistics speak for themselves.
Hello Ms. Ring - What are some specific needs youth sex trafficking victims need as compared to a victim of sexual assault?
1.  Mollie Ring
 Hi Brandon,From a medical perspective, when treating a youth for the sexual trauma she may have experienced while in prostitution, the differences may be minimal though, without a medical background, I cannot give you specific details as far as how these clients might be treated differently in the medical setting. My assumption is that any differences in the medical setting would be case-by-case depending on the level of staff training on working with prostituted youth. More significant differences however may arise when treating a child sex trafficking victim on the psychological end. Many of the youth we work with are engaged in prostitution with the help of a pimptrafficker. Particularly with our girls, these youth may see this person as their boyfriend or someone in a caretaking role despite the violence committed against them directly and indirectly by this person. Therefore I would say that the difference that I see between treating someone who has suffered from a sexual assault and someone who is a victim of trafficking arises out of psychological aspects of the violence and the type of treatment necessary to heal as a result. Both require long-term healing, however there may be different psychological healing that needs to take place for a child who has been trafficked in order to address what led them into the situation and how it will be possible for them to stay out in the future, depending on whether they had an intimate relationship with their abuser.
Who currently keeps statistics on child victims of sex trafficking in my state?
1.  Lynn Baniak
 This is one of the issues we see in our state. We have stats on the victims that meet the federal definition but not on the state confirmed victims. In addition, we are not privy to the numbers of children who may have experienced CSEC but have had no law enforcement involvement therefore were not officially referred as a victim. It is hard to request funding and services- and especially to justify it in the current financial climate- without numbers. We know anecdotally it is happening but without numbers we can't really get a sense of what the problem is and have ideas of how to address it.
2.  Mollie Ring
 Hi Teri, As far as I know, there does not exist one, comprehensive source for state by state data on child sex trafficking. Some places to start: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children allows you to search for missing children by state: http://www.missingkids.com and we receive many referrals from NCMEC as a result. Polaris Project has state by state data based on the number and type of crisis calls they receive on the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline: http://www.polarisproject.org and can always be called for more information. Shared Hope International: http://www.sharedhope.org/Resources/Research.aspx has a major research arm that has issued a national report on domestic minor human trafficking and has a number of Domestic Field Assessments for a handful of states. The national report is a great resource and I would recommend that you call Shared Hope for more information. Finally, I would recommend calling your local police department or even better, the head of your human trafficking task force (if one exists) to see if they are reporting any numbers to the federal government. Regardless of where you look, this crime remains under-reported so its likely that actual numbers are higher then any statistics you might find.
Many of the child victims we see in Nevada are run away or thow away kids who view their pimp as their boyfriend/daddy. When they are picked up theor goal is to get back to theat person as soon as possible. How do we as service providers and law enforcement get the victim to understand that the pimp does not care about them, but is simply using them.
1.  Mollie Ring
 Hi Andrea,This is a great question that truly gets at the heart of our greatest challenge in working with this population. One strategy we employ is to staff peer counselors to do emergency response, screenings and assessments. These youth are often accustomed to the system and a slew of adults who come in and out of their life wanting to take their information. However, when someone comes to them promising a non-judgmental approach and can deliver on that promise with a personal story of how they too have experienced some of these same things, a bond is made, trust is built and suddenly the scale begins to tip. We reference a scale because we understand that in the beginning, the pimp controls as much as 90 of their mind and we may only get the remaining 10. The goal is to flip that scale so that we have the majority. Once we have a CSEC committed to receiving services (I say committed because a certain percentage will always run for a range of reasons mostly tied to the trauma they are still experiencing) we cover a set of educational topics such as healthy relationships, exploitation, and domestic violence, and utilize a range of artistic modalities to help them express their trauma. Eventually, they begin to see that boyfriends dont pimp and neither do true friends. These services are provided in a group setting to help model the healthy relationships we preach and provide a safe space for youth to talk about their experiences. Its not easy to be sure, and we absolutely see the boyfriendfather figure scenario often as a direct result of a larger void in this childs life. However, when a strong bond is built from the start, and the message is received that as service providers we will not judge their decisions and will continue to be here to support them, it is more likely that when they do run, they will stay in touch and come back when things get worse. Weve seen an honest, straightforward approach work in isolation; however I cannot emphasize enough the added value that a peer perspective can bring to the initial intake process. If you dont have peers on staff, perhaps you might consider developing a peer mentorship program for the future? If you are law enforcement, them perhaps you make sure to partner with sexual trauma counselors or service providers who can delivery the message in a different way.
What are the most important topics that should be included in a training program aimed at training outreach workers, counselors, advocates and case-managers of victims/survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking?
1.  Katrina
 I am interested in this topic as well and wonder if you could give a little more detail and expand on your answer.Thank you so much.
2.  Kathy Hargitt
 Are these topics part of a training offered to agencies outside of SAGE or a training for SAGE staff/volunteers? I do have more questions and will be contacting you outside of this forum so as to allow other people's questions to be answered.
3.  Joe
 Could you explain more about the structure of pimping?
4.  Mollie Ring
 Hi Kathy,Here are some of the topics we cover in our training program targeted at domestic minor sex trafficking identification:- The definition of human trafficking and how domestic minor trafficking fits within this definition- Where sex trafficking typically occurs- Global, national and local trends- Trauma and PTSD- Common push factors (i.e. poverty, sexual abuse, undeveloped life skills, drug dependency)- Common pull factors (i.e. the media)- Red Flags and Indicators- Who are the traffickers (i.e. types of pimps such as the boyfriend scenario, the business man pimp)- The Culture of CSEC & Challenges to Service Provision (i.e. the structure of pimping, psychological abuse) - Engagement and outreach strategies. Happy to get more specific if that would be helpful.
Could you please address Evidence Based Therapeutic Programs used in the Outpatient programs and Residential placements with victims of human trafficking? I am aware of TF-CBT for individual work and TREM for group work; however has there been an EBP put in practice?
I understand the 'recovery' of girls exploited in the sex trade industry is difficult. After girls have received counseling and enrolled in school, what measures are available to assist advanced education and selecting a career?
1.  Cassandra - BTF
 At Bridge to Freedom Foundation we are committed to the long-term development of survivors and our evidence research team is focused to ensure we research and develop the most sustainable programs for the anti-trafficking community on the whole. BTFF's Personal Development Program seeks to give survivors of modern slavery a positive self image, both internally and externally. Our programs address the individual needs of each survivor in the program to ensure that they receive adequate support based on their individual needs and personality.BTFF then moves to Personal Development where we seek to better prepare and enable clients to seek educational and professional development and provide them with the self-worth that they deserve, to take hold of, and advance their lives, to break the cycle of modern slavery and abuse.
How do we identify child victims?
1.  Mollie Ring
 Hi Cheryl, Below is a list of red flags and indicators we share with the field to improve identification rates. Its clear that no single red flag will lead to an identification however, taken together and stored in the back on ones mind when engaging with a youth, we have found this list helpful: Red Flags - Stopped going to school; Sudden changes in appearance (nails, hair, clothes) or access to cash (taking friends shoppingto eat); Has been arrested for drug possession or sales, prostitution, theft, or possession of a weapon; Has an older boyfriend; Indicators - Mental health symptoms (depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, and other symptoms of trauma, including inability to self-soothe); AWOL (Absence without leave); Victim of physical or sexual assault; Abuse in the home; Early sexualization knowing more about sex than one would expect for their age; Business-like approach to life where every request becomes a bartering exchange.
We would be interested in any legal/statutory mandates around these victims that other states have in place. Vermont is reseraching the possibility of a mandate for “Safe Harbor” legislation to prevent the criminalization of minor engaged in prostitution due to human trafficking.
1.  Amy Allen
 We are also interested in establishing a Safe Harbor law in the state of Tennessee as well, however we have been met with concerns from Social Services about the victims being placed in a secure facility.
In the wake of how Sex Trafficking has increased domestically what has been the response of the Spiritual Communities on serving victims of this crime? If there has not been a response, have there been any efforts to include different leaders in the various Spiritual Communities in this area and how would individuals and groups best get involved in this plan?
Do you see a major difference in the victims perception of their circumstances according to their racial/ethnic and/or social background?
1.  Kathy Findley
 Yes, we do observe some major differences. For African American young people, the pimp/boyfriend relationship can provide not only a perception of protection for the victim, but also a sense of belonging along with the provision of material possessions that falsly raise her self-esteem.For Latinas, the offender may be a family member who promised a better life in the United States. To report, therefore, may mean deportation and bringing harm to the family.Both of these unique populations tend to have more trust in their abusers than they have in our systems of justice.This is, of course, is only a very brief, simplistic and superficial response to the very complex issue.
There appear to be several studies and statistics done on girls and women who are victims of sex trafficking, is their any information about boy/male victims? What would be some differences in trying to help boys vs. girls in these types of situations?
I live in an extremely rural county; 11000 people total. How do we begin to bring awareness to the communities regarding the potential issue of child sex trafficking?
Do you have any knowledge of child protective services (or the appropriate state agency) creating special services for child victims of trafficking? Could you go into some detail about how that has worked?
what do you suggest to communities that are challenged to get an accurate count of youth being commercially sexually exploited?
1.  Mollie Ring
 I would recommend partnerships. Partnerships are the key to identification and must be fostered amongst a multi-disciplinary group of stakeholders. The reality is that CSEC are moving through multiple systems every day unaccounted for. If all points of intervention, i.e. CPS and group home staff, police officers, juvenile probation, healthcare workers, homeless youth organizations, community groups, schools and faith-based agencies, are trained in recognizing the red flags and indicators for CSEC, you are likely to get a better handle of the scale and scope of the problem in your local area.
2.  Brandon Cox
 I only have a couple seconds to type. I suggest looking into what the Dallas/Fort Worth Police Dept.s have done. They have created a great system of identifying and servicing this population.
Are there any other residential based treatmentfacilities besides GEMS that have been succesful and if so, what programs do they use? We are currently using My Life, My Choice curriculum.
1.  Kathy Hargitt
 The residential program Children of the Night in Los Angeles has been serving prostituted children since 1979: http://www.childrenofthenight.org
2.  Lynn Baniak
 In NY we have JCCA- The Gateways Program- in addition to GEMS. Here is a link to the JCCA program with information on the services and treatment program: http://www.jccany.org/site/PageServer?pagename=programs_residential_gateways
Can you please discuss standards for victim programs and providers working with child victims of human trafficking.
Are you aware of any states that have instituted a formal protocol for inter-agency collaboration in responding to CSEC? If not states, any localities? Our local Child Advocacy Center is working on this and interested in what others have done...
When presenting to community and/or faith based groups, is there specific information that might be offered as preventive measures to their child becoming a victim or indicators?
1.  Mollie Ring
 I think the key to prevention is a straightforward and honest approach about the push and pull factors in our society. We have done a range of presentations for youth and adults around prevention and, particularly for youth, I think its important to uncover the way that our society glorifies pimping and the sexualization of young girls. We work to demystify the experience of someone in prostitution, often with survivor testimonies that demonstrate the level of psychological and physical violence, as well as health risks. And we seek to break stereotypes as far as what a pimp looks like by making sure that people are aware that pimps may present themselves as older boyfriends and that youth may be recruited off of the internet unsuspectingly, at the mall or on their way home from school. Education is key and I would encourage as much as possible in schools, congregations and community centers.
Are you seeing any emerging trends or developments in your work with human trafficking victims especially foreign nationals who are applying for T and U visas? are there any challenges in the visa applications?
What are some of the most innovative and effective practices that you have seen in the areas of awareness, victim relief, rehabilitation and criminal justice responses to child sex trafficking
Return to Discussion