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Sex Trafficking of Minors: The Impact of Legislative Reform and Judicial Decision Making in Metropolitan and Non-Metropolitan Communities

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2018
12 pages
This is the Final Summary Overview of the findings and methodology of a research project that examined the effect of legislative and judicial factors on system responses to the sex trafficking of minors (STM) in metropolitan and non-metropolitan communities.
Specifically, the study had four objectives: 1) Evaluate change in key agency personnel's awareness, knowledge, and capacity for responding to STM; 2) Examine the impact of immunity, protective, and rehabilitative provision of a safe harbor law by examining changes in key outcomes; 3) Provide guidance on how juvenile and family judges' knowledge and attitudes influence their responses to trafficking victims, witnesses, and defendants in crimes related to their trafficking victimization; and 4) Identify and disseminate policy, education, and practice strategies that support informed judicial decision-making in STM juvenile and family court cases. Sources of data and information in pursuing these goals were key informant interviews, judicial interviews, and court data. The study found that key state agencies are screening justice-involved persons for human trafficking, and service providers are reporting to the agency mandated by the safe harbor law to investigate allegations of STM; however, it is unclear why so few cases of STM are substantiated, confirmed, and/or result in criminal charges. More research is needed to determine the child welfare and law enforcement processes that occur after reports of suspected human trafficking. Interviews with juvenile and family court judges and state key informants indicate that the identification and management of sex trafficking cases requires increased training of relevant staff in human trafficking, more research on observable indicators of sex trafficking, further development of screening tools, more resources for STM victim services, and greater interagency cooperation. 4 figures and 3 tables

Date Published: September 1, 2018