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Safe Harbor: State Efforts to Combat Child Trafficking

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2017
13 pages
Rich Williams
This brief identifies six themes and related policy options in state "safe harbor" laws, which focus on combating child trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and providing appropriate services for its victims.
Prior to addressing these six themes, the brief discusses the quantification of child trafficking, noting that current state efforts in this regard are inadequate and probably underestimate its prevalence. Other background material focuses on the social characteristics of commercially sexually exploited (CSE) children in Florida in 2015. Florida legislators require the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to conduct an annual study of child commercial sexual exploitation in the state. For 2015, the report provided demographic data for 264 commercially sexually exploited children. The brief then addresses the six themes in state "safe harbor" laws. One theme discussed in such legislation is collaboration and coordination of state entities and resources in addressing child trafficking. A second theme addressed is the decriminalization and/or diversion for the illegal actions of trafficked children. A third theme in safe harbor laws relates to funding for anti-trafficking efforts and survivor services. The nature of such services is the fourth theme. The fifth theme in state safe harbor legislation is increased penalties for child traffickers. The concluding theme in such state legislation pertains to training in the recognition of and response to trafficking crimes and its victims. In a concluding statement, this brief reports that research on the effectiveness of various safe-harbor policies is in its early stages; however, to date, some positive evidence is emerging. 13 resource reports and a listing of statute numbers for safe harbor legislation in various states

Date Created: August 6, 2018