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Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
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11


Overall Conclusions and
Recommendations

The committee’s ultimate goals in this report are to identify what is known about commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors and to define strategies for improving prevention and identification of and interventions for victims and survivors of these crimes. As noted in Chapter 1, the committee was guided in its work by three principles:

1.    Commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors should be understood as acts of abuse and violence against children and adolescents.

2.    Minors who are commercially sexually exploited or trafficked for sexual purposes should not be considered criminals.

3.    Identification of victims and survivors and any intervention, above all, should do no further harm to any child or adolescent.

The committee faced a number of challenges in addressing the above goals, the most difficult of which was the lack of a well-established, peer-reviewed evidence base for virtually every aspect of the subject of this study. In response, the committee drew upon the existing literature, governmental and nongovernmental reports, research from related fields of practice and study, key informant interviews, and testimony presented during the com-

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

mittee’s workshops and site visits1 to formulate a number of key findings and conclusions that are highlighted in the preceding chapters. In this final chapter, those findings and conclusions are consolidated into five overall conclusions. Those conclusions in turn serve as the foundation for the committee’s recommendations for a coordinated, multisector response to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States.

The committee’s recommendations include strategies for increasing awareness and understanding among professionals and the public, including children and adolescents; for strengthening the law’s response, as well as research, interventions, and collaboration among essential partners; for evaluating current and future programs; and for creating a digital information-sharing platform to promote communication and coordination among providers, professionals, and the public. Also provided is guidance on key implementation strategies for the committee’s recommendations by an array of individuals and entities.

OVERALL CONCLUSIONS

As this report demonstrates, the United States is in the very early stages of recognizing, understanding, and developing solutions for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. After reviewing the evidence, the committee came to the following overall conclusions:

•    There is substantial and compelling evidence that commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States are serious problems with immediate and long-term adverse consequences for children and adolescents, as well as for families, communities, and society as a whole.

•    Efforts to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States are essential but largely absent.

•    Efforts to identify and respond to the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States are emerging, with some noteworthy examples, but efforts to date are largely undersupported, insufficient, uncoordinated, and unevaluated.

__________________________

1The committee acknowledges that this report cannot include all noteworthy activities currently under way to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. However, the committee made every attempt to learn about and document a broad array of strategies, programs, policies, and laws for this study. Any exclusions or omissions should not be viewed as intentional, but as a function of the time and resources available for this study and/or the visibility of various activities across the nation.

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

•    Efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States require collaborative approaches that build upon the core capabilities of people and entities from a range of sectors.

•    Efforts to address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States need to confront demand and the individuals who commit and benefit from these crimes.

The above conclusions reflect the need for action. The evidence, although limited, identifies a serious and largely unaddressed issue that requires a national response. This report calls for nothing short of a paradigm shift from treating victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors as criminals to understanding and recognizing commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors as forms of child abuse. Realizing such a profound change will require significant and sustained efforts among numerous partners. The committee views this study—and this moment—as a critical turning point in the nation’s approach to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The committee arrived at a set of six recommendations based on the best evidence currently available. (See Box 11-1 for supporting evidence for each of the committee’s recommendation.) These recommendations provide practical strategies for increasing awareness; advancing understanding; and supporting efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. They call for multiple and diverse efforts at a variety of levels by a wide range of individuals and governmental and nongovernmental entities. (Box 11-2 provides suggested actions that can be taken by a range of actors to support the implementation of the committee’s recommendations.) If acted upon in a coordinated and comprehensive manner, the committee’s recommendations have the potential to advance and strengthen the nation’s emerging efforts to address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. The result would be a significant step forward in improving the prevention and identification of and responses to these crimes.

Before proceeding, the committee wishes to stress that it recognizes the numerous challenges entailed in engaging in new work and committing additional resources in a time of serious fiscal constraints. However, choosing austerity over action is not in the best interest of victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors who are subjected to chronic sexual exploitation or of vulnerable children

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

and adolescents whose exploitation could be prevented. Therefore, the committee highlights strategies for leveraging existing resources whenever possible, and urges strong and immediate action to prevent, identify, and address these crimes.

Increase Awareness and Understanding

The committee found that a lack of training among professionals who interact with children and adolescents—especially those who are vulnerable—inhibits timely and appropriate action on behalf of victims and survivors of and minors at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. For example, the committee repeatedly heard from speakers and read in the literature that people were dismayed to learn that they had missed opportunities to help these youth, and wanted to know more about how to identify and assist these victims. As noted in Chapters 5-10, training and public awareness campaigns addressing commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors are two strategies already in use in some areas and sectors. Similar efforts have been shown to be effective in other public health and public safety domains, such as dating violence, bullying, and substance abuse. Therefore, the committee makes the following recommendation:

Recommendation 1: The Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education, working with other partners, should increase awareness of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors by supporting the development, implementation, and evaluation of

•    national, regional, state, and local evidence-informed training for professionals and other individuals who routinely interact with children and adolescents;

•    national, regional, state, and local public awareness campaigns; and

•    specific strategies for raising awareness among children and adolescents.

All training activities and public awareness campaigns should be carefully designed to engage the public and service providers to act on the behalf of victims and survivors without doing further harm.

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

Training

Based on its review of the evidence, the committee determined that training needs to target and reach a range of audiences in a variety of settings (e.g., urban and rural; tribal lands, territories, and states). Specific audiences include, but are not limited to,

•    parents and caregivers,

•    teachers and other school personnel,

•    students,

•    physicians and other health care providers,

•    child welfare professionals,

•    community- and faith-based organizations,

•    law enforcement personnel,

•    attorneys in juvenile and criminal courts,

•    judges in juvenile and criminal courts,

•    mental health professionals, and

•    social workers.

In addition, as noted in Chapter 10, training activities need to be ongoing to ensure that training levels are sustained among professionals in fields that experience high rates of turnover and/or transfers. Based on its overall conclusion that efforts to address the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors should build on the core capacities of various individuals and entities, the committee encourages the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), in partnership with the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, to engage relevant sectors in developing, implementing, and evaluating training activities that use evidence-based methods to promote adult learning (NRC, 1999). Broad engagement will help ensure that the necessary training is available, accessible, and acceptable for multiple audiences. Further, each sector should be consulted to determine the best methods for providing the training, recognizing that needs may vary, for example, between focused task forces and rural providers and between law enforcement personnel and health care providers. Likewise, the training needs of general health care providers (e.g., primary care providers) likely will differ from those of health care providers who routinely interact with and examine victims of abuse (e.g., forensic nurses). Therefore, while it is necessary to increase awareness of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors among all health care providers, training activities will need to be developed for different specific audiences (e.g., both general awareness training and highly specialized training).

Strategies might include leveraging existing programs and expanding

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

current efforts within the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services to provide a range of training opportunities to an array of professionals. One such strategy is to make use of the online Directory of Technical Assistance for Anti-Human Trafficking Task Forces and Service Providers, recently launched by the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crimes and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA and OVC, 2012). Other opportunities exist through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Area Health Education Centers, a program that provides community-based training and continuing education to health care providers who serve vulnerable and underserved populations (HRSA, 2013). Finally, the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students’ Technical Assistance Centers could develop training for education professionals and students (Office of Safe and Healthy Students, 2013).

Public Awareness Campaigns

The committee found that a lack of public awareness about all aspects of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States is a significant barrier to preventing, identifying, and responding to these crimes. Public awareness campaigns addressing these problems need to be developed. The structures and functions of existing efforts and programs could be enhanced and expanded to encompass commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. As noted in Chapter 8, for example, schools could build upon current policies, programs, and resources that promote student health and well-being, many of which have proven efficacy, to develop effective, evidence-based programs for preventing, identifying, and addressing commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.

Further, the committee found that child and adolescent victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking may not view themselves as victims. In addition, children and adolescents who are at risk for this kind of exploitation may not recognize their individual risk. Therefore, special efforts are needed to increase the awareness of children and adolescents to help them avoid becoming victims and to help victims and survivors obtain needed assistance. As noted in Chapter 8, for example, school-based programs focused on promoting healthy relationships and preventing adolescent dating violence provide educators and school personnel with an opportunity to discuss and educate students on commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors as another form of violence against adolescents. In addition, peer- and student-led interventions (including peer mentoring and peer education) that have been found to be effective in other health domains, such as reproductive health care (Brindis et al., 2005) and smoking prevention in adolescence

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

(Campbell et al., 2008), may be suitable strategies for raising awareness about commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking among children and adolescents.

In keeping with its belief that a variety of sectors and stakeholders should be engaged in addressing the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States, the committee urges the OJJDP and the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to partner with the commercial sector, foundations, nongovernmental organizations, and journalists and media that reach the public to leverage resources so as to reach the broadest possible audience.

Strengthen the Law’s Response

Through its review of the evidence, the committee found that national, state, local, tribal, and territorial laws and policies addressing commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States vary significantly. Understanding the need for a consistent and appropriate legal response to victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, the committee makes the following recommendation:

Recommendation 2: All national, state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions should develop laws and policies that redirect young victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking from arrest and prosecution as criminals or adjudication as delinquents to systems, agencies, and services that are equipped to meet their needs. Such laws should apply to all children and adolescents under age 18.

Drawing on its analysis of federal, state, tribal, and local laws and their application (as described in Chapters 4 and 5), as well as new understandings of adolescent development (as described in Chapter 3), the committee concluded that current laws are inadequate to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Therefore, the committee urges states and local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions to develop laws that, at a minimum,

•    prevent commercially sexually exploited children and adolescents from being arrested or prosecuted for prostitution;

•    provide victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors with needed support services; and

•    apply to children and adolescents at least up to age 18.

These laws will need to be evaluated over time to determine best practices. Further, laws and practices that divert victims from the criminal or

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

juvenile justice system to the child welfare system to receive supportive services could include older adolescents (over age 18) who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking since childhood. The committee believes a number of other recent legislative initiatives may also merit further consideration, with care being taken to avoid adverse consequences for victims and survivors while maintaining strong penalties for exploiters. These initiatives include decriminalization of prostitution for minors in recognition that they are victims, not criminals. As noted in Chapter 4, Illinois currently is the only state to have fully decriminalized prostitution for minors.

In addition, the committee’s review of the evidence revealed that, despite laws in every state that enable the prosecution of individuals who purchase sex with a minor, function as exploiters/traffickers, or otherwise sexually exploit children and adolescents, and despite the hard work of prosecutors and law enforcement in many jurisdictions, individuals who sexually exploit children and adolescents have largely escaped accountability. Understanding the need for a strong legal response to perpetrators of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, the committee makes the following recommendation:

Recommendation 3: All national, state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions should review, strengthen, and implement laws that hold exploiters, traffickers, and solicitors accountable for their role in commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. These laws should include a particular emphasis on deterring demand.

As described in Chapter 5, commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors are crimes driven, to a large extent, by profit and demand. Legal efforts to prevent and respond to these crimes need to be enhanced. The committee learned about a number of laws and emerging law enforcement strategies designed to address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, as reviewed in Chapters 4 and 5. For example, the Illinois Safe Children Act has provisions that enhance detection and investigation of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors using tools such as wiretapping. The committee also learned about strategies for ensuring that prosecutors have the necessary tools to create victim-driven, not victim-built, cases. In Cook County, Illinois, for example, prosecutors pursue a range of offenses related to the exploitation and/or trafficking of a child or adolescent to maximize the likelihood of conviction and substantial sentencing. As noted in Chapter 5, prosecutors can employ additional “creative” strategies to help prove these cases, depending on applicable law and resources in their jurisdictions. Examples include the

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

following (Clawson et al., 2008; Gentile Long and Garvey, 2012; Greene, 2012; Knowles-Wirsing, 2012; Koch, 2012; Nasser, 2012; Walker, 2012):

•    Seek to admit evidence of the victim’s prior testimony or out-of-court statements in lieu of having the victim testify at trial by establishing that “forfeiture by wrongdoing” applies, i.e., that the defendant’s actions to intimidate the victim are the reason the victim is unable or unwilling to testify, so that the defendant has forfeited the constitutional right to confront the victim at trial.

•    Introduce any available evidence that shows overt or subtle intimidation employed by the defendant to explain why the victim is absent from the trial, is unwilling to testify, or is testifying on behalf of the defendant.

•    Introduce expert testimony to explain victim behavior and the dynamics involved in cases of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors that might otherwise be misunderstood by jurors or interpreted as damaging the victim’s credibility.

•    Use technology and the private sector to assist in gathering and presenting evidence of money laundering, to “mine” cell phone data, and/or to identify a “financial footprint” that corroborates the victim’s testimony or indicates suspicious or criminal behavior.

•    Seek forfeiture of assets (e.g., money, houses, cars, other property) gained by the offender as a result of engaging in commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking of minors.

•    Pursue restitution orders to make offenders pay for victim services.

Other tools that may enhance prosecution of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking cases include permitting prosecution of solicitors/purchasers regardless of whether they knew or should have known the victim’s age—so-called strict liability laws—and imposing stricter penalties for facilitators of these crimes, such as taxi and limousine drivers.

In addition to reviewing, strengthening, and implementing laws that respond to victims/survivors and exploiters after crimes have occurred, the committee urges state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions to consider how laws can be used to help prevent commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Finally, in keeping with its guiding principle that any intervention should do no further harm to any child or adolescent, the committee urges that all efforts to strengthen laws include provisions to protect young people from possible retaliation by exploiters and traffickers.

The committee emphasizes that all of the strategies discussed above will require evaluation to develop best practices and enhance the national response to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

Strengthen Research to Advance Understanding and Support
the Development of Prevention and Intervention Strategies

As noted throughout this report, the committee’s review of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States was constrained by the extremely limited evidence base related to these crimes. In addition, the committee found considerable variability in the quality of current research in these areas. Therefore, the committee makes the following recommendation:

Recommendation 4: The Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education should collaborate and partner with others to implement a national research agenda focused on

•    advancing knowledge and understanding of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States;

•    developing effective, child- and adolescent-centered, multisector interventions designed to prevent children and adolescents from becoming victims or exploiters and to assist those who have been exploited; and

•    developing strategies and methodologies for evaluating the effectiveness of prevention and intervention laws, policies, and programs.

A Shift from Counting Generally to Counting Specifically

The committee found that the data currently available, as detailed in Chapter 2, are sufficient to demonstrate that commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors who are U.S. citizens and legal permanent U.S. residents are pressing problems that require attention. Based on difficulties entailed in measuring crime in general and in measuring commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors specifically, however, the committee concluded that it would not be useful to devote substantial resources to refining estimates of the problems’ overall prevalence. At the same time, the committee concluded that more needs to be known about the prevalence of these crimes among and the associated needs of certain vulnerable and difficult-to-reach populations, including but not limited to boys; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth; homeless youth; rural youth; systems-involved youth; and racial and ethnic minority populations, including Native Americans. As described in Chapter 3, many of these children and adolescents have specific risk factors and needs that have not yet been adequately recognized or examined.

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

Priority Areas for Research

In addition to emphasizing the importance of addressing the needs of vulnerable youth, the committee identified the following priority areas for immediate examination:

•    development of evidence-based prevention strategies;

•    identification of risk and protective factors;

•    development and evaluation of short- and long-term intervention needs and strategies;

•    gender- and ethnic-responsive delivery of services (including physical health, mental health, legal, housing, and education) and support to difficult-to-reach populations;

•    comprehensive, multisector approaches; and

•    demand and its reduction.

As described in Chapters 1 and 3, researchers and practitioners must consider all of the environments and factors that have an impact on minors at risk for and those who are victims/survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. The social-ecological approach (described in detail in Chapter 3) provides a framework for considering opportunities for prevention and intervention at every level (e.g., individual, relationship, community, societal). In addition, research will need to be especially sensitive to issues of gender and ethnicity since minors at risk for and affected by commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking include both girls and boys and come from a wide array of backgrounds.

The committee recommends that particular attention be paid to understanding and developing interventions to address known risk factors, such as child abuse, sexual abuse, and separation of the child or adolescent from the home, including homelessness, that are associated with victimization through commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. As described in Chapter 3, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study found that child sexual abuse affects 25 percent of women and 16 percent of men. Being a victim of child sexual abuse appears to be a risk factor for many forms of future health and social problems, including suicide attempts, depression, poor self-esteem, posttraumatic stress disorder, and marital problems. Child sexual abuse also is a powerful risk factor for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Any effort to decrease the occurrence of these crimes must therefore target child sexual abuse as a primary risk factor for being exploited or trafficked. Broad attempts to prevent sexual abuse of both boys and girls and to punish those who engage in this form of abuse will yield benefits not only in reducing commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors but also in decreasing future health

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

and social problems. Longitudinal and multidisciplinary research will be essential to understand the full complexity of factors that enable the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors and the recovery of those affected.

The committee is equally committed to the need to develop effective strategies for identifying and assisting minors who are victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Strategies are needed for identifying minors victimized by these crimes where they come in contact with adults, such as schools and clinics, as are multisector strategies for meeting their many needs, such as safe housing; medical and mental health care, including substance abuse treatment; and rehabilitation to attain the skills needed for success in society.

The committee recognizes that commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors would not occur without demand, an aspect of these crimes that is especially underexamined. More needs to be learned about the factors that contribute to demand to support the development of various interventions, including legal penalties that can decrease the occurrence of these crimes.

Finally, in keeping with its belief that a one-size-fits-all approach to these problems is not possible, the committee urges the OJJDP and its partners to encourage local, state, territorial, and tribal governmental and nongovernmental individuals and entities to assess needs within their community or locality to determine their highest research priorities.

Publication and Dissemination of Research Findings

To foster dissemination of research findings and to establish a critically reviewed evidence base, the OJJDP and its partners should require the publication of findings and sharing of information when soliciting research proposals. Federal partners in implementing a national research agenda might include

•    the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation;

•    the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation;

•    the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development;

•    the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health;

•    the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice;

•    the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and

•    the Department of Homeland Security.

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

Support Multisector and Interagency Collaboration

Through its examination of the evidence, the committee found that commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors are complex problems entailing numerous risk factors and pathways into exploitation and many opportunities for a variety of individuals who work with young people to identify victims, as well as those at risk. Once identified, victims may require a variety of services and assistance to recover from the harm suffered as a result of their exploitation and to live healthy lives. The committee believes comprehensive, coordinated approaches that bring together resources from multiple sectors will be most effective in identifying victims and survivors and in meeting their challenging needs. The committee heard testimony from several multisector groups that are working to identify and meet the needs of children and adolescents who are at risk of or are victims/survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, with leadership from many different sectors, ranging from law enforcement to victim services. As noted in Chapter 10, such collaboration also has been used to address a range of related and overlapping crimes, such as child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Therefore, the committee makes the following recommendation:

Recommendation 5: The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in collaboration and partnership with national, state, local, tribal, and territorial governmental and nongovernmental entities, should develop guidelines on and provide technical assistance to support multisector collaboration and information sharing.

Placing this recommendation under the auspices of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention—an independent body within the executive branch of the federal government comprising both federal agency and nonfederal practitioner members—is intended to ensure that the proposed guidelines and technical assistance will be developed by a group with practical experience in multisector and interagency collaboration and in serving youth. Members of the Coordinating Council include the attorney general; the secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, and Housing and Urban Development; the administrator of the OJJDP; the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; the chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service; and the assistant secretary for immigration and customs enforcement, Department of Homeland Security (OJJDP, undated).

The committee recognizes that research also is needed to develop more effective interventions within each sector, understanding that collaborations

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

are most effective when all participants are skilled in evidence-based approaches. The development, implementation, and assessment of evidence-informed protocols for identifying and assisting victims and survivors are particularly important. Specific guidelines and technical assistance needed to facilitate multisector and interagency collaboration may include information on

•    identifying and engaging essential partners;

•    developing memoranda of understanding and/or formal agreements on roles and responsibilities;

•    establishing data- and information-sharing protocols; and

•    creating formalized channels of communication.

Finally, guidelines and technical assistance will help ensure that highly specialized approaches employed in larger urban centers can be translated to other contexts. For example, local police departments, which represent more than 12,000 of the 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States (Reaves, 2011), may encounter commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors with less frequency than larger police departments. Developing, implementing, and assessing multisector and interagency collaboration in different settings will necessarily require a high degree of guidance and technical assistance.

Create a Digital Information-Sharing Platform

The committee found that one of the most significant barriers to action by agencies, systems, and individuals to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors is a lack of reliable, timely information. While a number of organizations maintain lists of services available to child and adolescent victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, the committee was unable to identify an exhaustive list of national-, state-, local-, and tribal-level resources for victim and support services. Testimony from practitioners in the field and key informant interviews mirrored the committee’s perception of the difficulty of locating services for individuals in need of assistance. The committee believes the challenges in locating services and programs available to victims present very real obstacles for children and adolescents who seek to access services and for professionals and caregivers who try to help them. The committee therefore concluded that access to up-to-date, reliable, real-time information on how to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of children and adolescents is needed. Therefore, the committee makes the following recommendation:

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

Recommendation 6: The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention should create and maintain a digital information-sharing platform to deliver reliable, real-time information on how to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States.

The committee believes the creation of a Web-based clearinghouse of resources, while helpful, will not be sufficient. Rather, if this platform is to be maximally useful, it will need to incorporate existing, new, and emerging informatics tools to ensure that individuals and entities seeking assistance can access the information they need when they need it. Thus, the committee recommends that the OJJDP partner with an independent, unbiased entity with robust informatics capabilities to create and maintain this resource.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In testimony to the committee, the OJJDP offered its vision for “a nation where our children are healthy, educated, and free from violence” (Hanes, 2012). Through its support of this study and its strong focus on an issue of serious concern, the OJJDP demonstrates an unwavering commitment to achieving this vision. It is the committee’s hope that the recommendations in this report will make a substantial contribution to the OJJDP’s current and future efforts to address the complex problems of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States and help in making significant gains toward attaining this vision.

Efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States are at the same developmental stage that efforts to deal with physical and sexual abuse of children were in during the 1970s, when a handful of multidisciplinary approaches for addressing those problems were emerging around the United States. Approaches to domestic and interpersonal violence were at a similar stage in the early 1980s. The committee believes the nation today has a real opportunity to build upon lessons from those earlier efforts, as well as current noteworthy practices, to advance understanding of and responses to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. The children and adolescents described in this report who are at risk of and are victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking—most of whom the committee believes are out of our sight—cannot wait. The human cost of the status quo is simply unacceptable.

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

BOX 11-1
Recommendations and Supporting Evidence

Recommendation 1: The Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education, working with other partners, should increase awareness of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors by supporting the development, implementation, and evaluation of

•    national, regional, state, and local evidence-informed training for professionals and other individuals who routinely interact with children and adolescents;

•    national, regional, state, and local public awareness campaigns; and

•    specific strategies for raising awareness among children and adolescents.

Supporting Evidence

2-7 Increased awareness and understanding of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States can improve data collection efforts and estimates.
3-5 While commercial sexual exploitation of minors can affect youth across the board, some are groups at higher risk, including those who lack stable housing and sexual and gender minority youth. In addition, some settings and situations—homelessness, foster care placement, and juvenile justice involvement—are particularly high risk under certain circumstances, providing opportunities for recruitment of young people.
3-6 Child and adolescent victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking may not view themselves as victims. In addition, children and adolescents who are at risk for these kinds of exploitation may not recognize their individual risk.
3-7 Substance use is a risk factor for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors and also may perpetuate exploitation.
5-1 Law enforcement personnel at all levels often are the first to respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking cases involving minors. Consequently, their knowledge and ability to identify victims, investigate cases, and make appropriate referrals is an important part of developing an overall response to these problems.
5-4 Many law enforcement personnel do not recognize commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors as serious problems. As a result, they may fail to identify victims of these crimes and may be uncertain about how to handle these cases.
5-6 Although efforts to train personnel within the legal system to address human trafficking have increased, the majority of personnel in the system have not been trained to recognize and respond to suspected or
Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×
confirmed cases of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
5-8 Juvenile justice personnel need training in identifying victims of trafficking who are in the system on charges unrelated to prostitution through intake screenings, runaway and homeless programs, and programming in juvenile detention centers.
8-5 An essential step is training school personnel to recognize commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors and to make appropriate referrals to address the needs of these youth.

Recommendation 2: All national, state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions should develop laws and policies that redirect young victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking from arrest and prosecution as criminals or adjudication as delinquents to systems, agencies, and services that are equipped to meet their needs. Such laws should apply to all children and adolescents under age 18.

Supporting Evidence

4-6 Secure detention often is used as a means of “protecting” children and adolescents who have been sexually exploited and trafficked from future contact with and pressure from their exploiters and traffickers. Although the protection of victims and survivors is an important imperative, the use of secure detention can expose these youth to violence and other harms from those with whom they are detained, highlighting the need to develop alternative means of protection.
4-7 Child welfare laws in most states do not establish an adequate framework for the legal interventions and supportive services necessary to respond to the needs of minors who are victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.
4-12 Further attention is needed to the intersection of laws and the education, housing, and employment needs of both children and adolescents who are vulnerable to and those who have been victimized by commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking to ensure that their needs are met.
4-13 Existing provisions of state laws criminalizing prostitution have been used to arrest and prosecute minors whose actions fall within the technical ambit of these laws even when these children and adolescents are in fact victims of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking.
4-14 Children and adolescents exploited in the commercial sex industry or through sex trafficking are victims of crimes. Further attention is required to the continued arrest and prosecution of these youth for prostitution or other sexual offenses related to their exploitation, which has the potential to exacerbate the harm they have suffered. Safe
Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×
harbor laws and principles merit further consideration in all federal, state, harbor laws and principles merit further consideration in all federal, state, and local jurisdictions. and local jurisdictions.
4-16 Civil lawsuits merit further exploration as a strategy for creating effective remedies for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Efforts to identify and remove barriers faced by child and adolescent victims in bringing such claims against the traffickers and other exploiters who have victimized them are warranted.
4-17 It is critical to ensure that, once adopted, laws are implemented fully and that legislatures take steps to appropriate funding that has been authorized for survivor services under existing law.
5-2 Many law enforcement personnel and agencies continue to arrest and charge minors with prostitution.
5-7 Pursuing cases that are “victim-driven, not victim-built” can reduce the need for the legal system to depend on cooperation by victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.
5-9 Diversion programs need to be established so that youth identified as victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking can receive treatment as part of their rehabilitation or in lieu of punishment.
5-10 The judiciary, juvenile justice agency personnel, and prosecutors should all have the opportunity to use their discretion to refer youth identified as victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking to appropriate treatment services.

Recommendation 3: All national, state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions should review, strengthen, and implement laws that hold exploiters, traffickers, and solicitors accountable for their role in commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. These laws should include a particular emphasis on deterring demand.

Supporting Evidence

4-5 Despite laws in every state that enable the prosecution of individuals who purchase sex with a minor, function as pimps, operate brothels engaged in the sale of sex with young females and males, or otherwise sexually exploit children and adolescents, and despite the hard work of prosecutors and law enforcement personnel in many jurisdictions, individuals who sexually exploit children and adolescents have largely escaped accountability.
4-8 Monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of laws, polices, and programs that have been promulgated at the federal and state levels or supported through federal and state law has been sparse and inadequate, and at times completely absent.
Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×
4-10 Further research is needed on an ongoing basis to identify gaps and weaknesses in federal and state laws (including the implementation of these laws) and in understanding of how and the extent to which they address, or fail to address, the needs of minors who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking.
4-15 Further research is needed to identify and address any obstacles in law or its enforcement that inhibit the prosecution of customers, traffickers, and other exploiters of children.
4-17 It is critical to ensure that, once adopted, laws are implemented fully and that legislatures take steps to appropriate funding that has been authorized for survivor services under existing law.
5-11 The Trafficking Victims Protection Act and new state laws have provided prosecutors and judges with additional tools for investigating, prosecuting, and sentencing exploiters, traffickers, purchasers, and solicitors in cases of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. In addition, prosecutors can use a range of existing laws to pursue convictions and more substantial sentences.

Recommendation 4: The Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education should collaborate and partner with others to implement a national research agenda focused on

•    advancing knowledge and understanding of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States;

•    developing effective, child- and adolescent-centered, multisector interventions designed to prevent children and adolescents from becoming victims or exploiters and to assist those who have been exploited; and

•    developing strategies and methodologies for evaluating the effectiveness of prevention and intervention laws, policies, and programs.

Supporting Evidence

2-1 No reliable national estimate exists of the incidence or prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States.
2-6 Specific data fields related to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors have been added to existing crime measurement efforts (e.g., UCR/SRS and NIBRS) to enhance estimates of these crimes; similar changes could be made to existing non-criminal justice measurement efforts (e.g., YRBS and Add Health) to enhance estimates of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors that may not involve law enforcement (e.g., instances in which police are not notified or the crime is not recognized).
3-1 There is a lack of peer-reviewed evidence focused on the causes of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors and
Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×
consequences for victims, particularly boys. Also scarce is evidence on factors that protect against exploitation and revictimization.
3-8 The multiple systems that engage youth (e.g., health care, education, juvenile justice) have few models for intervening with youth at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
3-9 In general, an integrated public institutional response to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors is lacking.
4-11 Further research is needed to examine whether child welfare agencies have the necessary resources and are adequately prepared to meet the needs of minors who are victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking in states that have adopted, or are considering adoption of, a requirement for universal or widespread reporting of cases of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking of minors under child abuse reporting laws.
4-12 Further attention is needed to the intersection of laws and the education, housing, and employment needs of both children and adolescents who are vulnerable to and those who have been victimized by commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking to ensure that their needs are met.
4-16 Civil lawsuits merit further exploration as a strategy for creating effective remedies for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Efforts to identify and remove barriers faced by child and adolescent victims in bringing such claims against the traffickers and other exploiters who have victimized them are warranted.
4-17 It is critical to ensure that, once adopted, laws are implemented fully and that legislatures take steps to appropriate funding that has been authorized for survivor services under existing law.
5-5 Task forces are one approach used by the legal system to identify and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Additional research is needed to identify specific task force strategies and components that can increase the reach and effectiveness of this approach.
5-12 Research on the effectiveness of the overall response of the criminal justice system to exploiters and traffickers and to solicitors and purchasers is limited. Therefore, additional research is needed to determine effective punishments for both exploiters and traffickers and solicitors and purchasers who engage in the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
6-3 Given the growing support for and implementation of trauma-informed care, trauma-specific treatment, and trauma-focused services for victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex traf-
Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×
ficking, a more thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of these approaches is warranted.
6-9 Research on victim and support services can help build a much-needed evidence base for promising and best practices for victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States to inform future work. Broad dissemination of the findings of this research through publication in the peer-reviewed literature is needed so that this evidence base will be critically reviewed.
6-10 With few exceptions, current victim and support services for victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors lack plans and mechanisms for evaluation and outcome measurement.
6-11 Additional research is needed to determine the range of services needed to assist and support victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors and to evaluate the delivery of services to populations in need.
7-1 Future research needs to focus on the roles of the health sector and health care providers in both prevention of and treatment for victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
7-2 Education and training programs for health care providers need to be evidence-based and have outcome data to support their effectiveness.
7-3 Assessment and screening tools and intervention programs for use by health care providers in identifying and assisting victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States need to be developed and evaluated.
8-2 Schools can build upon current policies, programs, and resources that promote student health and well-being, many of which have proven efficacy, to develop effective, evidence-based programs to prevent, identify, and address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
8-3 Current and future efforts in the education sector will require additional examination to determine their effectiveness.
9-5 Further research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of existing commercial-sector initiatives aimed at supporting efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, with a view to developing models or best practices for commercial-sector entities seeking to address these crimes.

Recommendation 5: The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in collaboration and partnership with national, state, local, tribal, and territorial governmental and nongovernmental entities, should develop

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

guidelines on and provide technical assistance to support multisector collaboration and information sharing.

Supporting Evidence

3-8 The multiple systems that engage youth (e.g., health care, education, juvenile justice) have few models for intervening with youth at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
3-9 In general, an integrated public institutional response to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors is lacking.
5-3 Few law enforcement agencies have specific protocols to follow when commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors are suspected or disclosed.
5-5 Task forces are one approach used by the legal system to identify and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Additional research is needed to identify specific task force strategies and components that can increase the reach and effectiveness of this approach.
10-1 Multisector and interagency collaboration is necessary to respond adequately to the multifaceted nature of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
10-6 Broad-based multisector and interagency collaborative approaches that are victim centered and tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of victims/survivors and their communities appear to hold the most promise for positively impacting commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States.

Recommendation 6: The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention should create and maintain a digital information-sharing platform to deliver reli-

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

able, real time information on how to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States.

Supporting Evidence

3-8 The multiple systems that engage youth (e.g., health care, education, juvenile justice) have few models for intervening with youth at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
3-9 In general, an integrated public institutional response to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors is lacking.
4-4 The absence of a comprehensive source of information identifying the services for victims and survivors established or funded by federal and state law presents obstacles for children and adolescents seeking to access services after experiencing the trauma of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation and for professionals and caregivers who try to help them.
4-12 Further attention is needed to the intersection of laws and the education, housing, and employment needs of both children and adolescents who are vulnerable to and those who have been victimized by commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking to ensure that their needs are met.
6-5 Broad consensus exists among professionals in each sector that serves victims/survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking that there are too few services available to meet current needs, and that services that do exist are unevenly distributed geographically, lack adequate resources, and vary in their ability to provide specialized care to victims/survivors of these crimes.

NOTE: The supporting evidence in this box consists of the findings and conclusions presented in Chapters 2-10, which bear the numbers shown in the box.

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

BOX 11-2
Summary of Key Implementation Strategies
for the Committee’s Recommendations

Congress

•    Authorize and appropriate funds for demonstration and pilot projects designed to cultivate sustainable multisector collaboration to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. Require demonstration and pilot projects to include work with particularly vulnerable populations, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children and adolescents; racial and ethnic minority populations (including Native Americans); homeless/runaway children and adolescents; rural children and adolescents; and multisystem-involved children and adolescents. (Recommendation 4)

•    Require the implementation, enforcement, and evaluation of laws, policies, and practices designed to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States through federal legislation. (Recommendations 2 and 3)

State Legislatures

•    Direct states to conduct needs assessments to inform appropriate planning, implementation, evaluation, and resource allocation for strategies designed to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. (Recommendation 4)

•    Direct states to review and amend, as appropriate, state laws addressing commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States to ensure that exploited and trafficked children and adolescents are treated as victims/survivors, not criminals, and to promote reduction of demand. (Recommendations 2 and 3)

Administration for Children and Families

•    Develop and disseminate an annual Domestic Trafficking in Persons report. Require states to submit reports annually on specific prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership activities for inclusion in this report. (Recommendations 1 and 6)

National Institute of Mental Health and
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

•    Support research on the root causes and prevention of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States, including commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of boys, risk and protective factors for all children and adolescents, short- and long-term intervention needs and strategies, and the delivery of services and support to difficult-to-reach populations. (Recommendation 4)

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

National Institute of Justice

•    Support research on laws, policies, and practices that reduce demand for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States and on the individuals who commit and benefit from these crimes. (Recommendation 4)

Office of Safe and Healthy Schools and
Institute of Education Sciences

•    Provide technical assistance to school districts for conducting school needs assessments on the prevention and identification of and response to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors within the school district, at individual schools, and in the immediate community. Produce and disseminate needs assessment reports that serve as benchmarks against which future gains can be measured.

•    Support research to evaluate implementation strategies for meeting needs identified in these school assessments. (Recommendation 4)

National, State, and Local Bar Associations

•    Examine and report on the impact of existing and emerging federal, state, and local laws addressing commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. Particular attention needs to be focused on new laws that redirect young victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking from arrest and prosecution as criminals or adjudication as delinquents to systems, agencies, and services equipped to meet their needs. (Recommendations 2 and 3)

•    Support laws, policies, and practices that reduce demand for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States, and punish the individuals who commit and benefit from these crimes. (Recommendation 4)

•    Conduct reviews of laws, policies, and practices in consultation with other law-related professional organizations, including associations of prosecutors and law enforcement, and publish the results of these reviews every 3 years to support the development and refinement of laws and policies. (Recommendations 2 and 3)

Academic and Research Institutions

•    Establish formal relationships with victim and support service providers, especially nongovernmental organizations, to develop studies, to collect data, and to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention and intervention activities. (Recommendation 4)

•    Provide guidance and technical assistance to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention on the delivery of reliable, real-time information about how to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. (Recommendation 5)

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

Foundations and Nongovernmental Organizations

•    Support and disseminate national, regional, state, and local public awareness campaigns, including specific strategies for raising awareness among children and adolescents. (Recommendation 1)

•    Develop, support, and evaluate effective prevention and victim and support service strategies for underage victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. (Recommendation 4)

•    Support the development and maintenance of a digital information-sharing platform that can deliver reliable, timely information about how to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. (Recommendation 5)

Commercial Sector

•    Provide technical expertise to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention on the development and maintenance of a digital information-sharing platform that can deliver reliable, real-time information about how to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. (Recommendation 5)

•    Leverage core capacities (e.g., big data, new media) to create and disseminate national, regional, state, and local public awareness campaigns, including specific strategies for raising awareness among children and adolescents. (Recommendation 1)

•    Leverage core capacities to support prevention, identification, and response efforts of law enforcement, social services, and other governmental and nongovernmental organizations working to address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. (Recommendation 1)

Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
×

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Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
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Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
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Page396
Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
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Page397
Suggested Citation:"11 Overall Conclusions and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2013. Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18358.
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Page398
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Every day in the United States, children and adolescents are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Despite the serious and long-term consequences for victims as well as their families, communities, and society, efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to these crimes are largely under supported, inefficient, uncoordinated, and unevaluated.

Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States examines commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States under age 18. According to this report, efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to these crimes require better collaborative approaches that build upon the capabilities of people and entities from a range of sectors. In addition, such efforts need to confront demand and the individuals who commit and benefit from these crimes. The report recommends increased awareness and understanding, strengthening of the law's response, strengthening of research to advance understanding and to support the development of prevention and intervention strategies, support for multi-sector and interagency collaboration, and creation of a digital information-sharing platform.

A nation that is unaware of these problems or disengaged from solutions unwittingly contributes to the ongoing abuse of minors. If acted upon in a coordinated and comprehensive manner, the recommendations of Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States can help advance and strengthen the nation's emerging efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States.

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