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Alternatives to Juvenile Justice for Youth Involved in Prostitution

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2011
41 pages
This report is a response to Texas legislation that requires the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC) to prepare a report that evaluates alternatives for the juvenile justice system in managing children who are accused of engaging in acts of prostitution.
The analysis of the problem of juveniles involved in prostitution in Texas concludes that many of these juveniles are victims of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST). Using the Internet, sex traffickers are increasingly recruiting minors for commercial sex. Some of these victims enter the juvenile justice system under prostitution charges, but many are more likely referred on other charges, such as runaway, truancy, or drug offenses. Others never enter the juvenile justice system. Community-based and residential services are not readily available for minors who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. This is due to a variety of legal and identification barriers that make it difficult for victims to receive services. A growing number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and advocacy groups in Texas are promoting an awareness of DMST, and some provide services; however, long-term residential treatment is not available. Four recommendations are presented for improved an expanded services for minors who become victims of recruitment into prostitution. First, create a network of providers that will facilitate service delivery for DMST victims. This network should include representatives from juvenile justice, child protective services, law enforcement, NGOs, runaway/homeless youth shelters, service providers, schools, and advocacy groups. Second, create an entity to function as a first and single point of contact for victims of human trafficking. It should organize service delivery and enhance collaboration among a network of providers. Third, assist juvenile probation departments in implementing community-based programs for existing and potential victims of sex trafficking. Fourth, increase the use of NGOs that specialize in DMST as service providers. 1 table, 5 figures, and appended relevant legislation and a list of service providers for victims of DMST in five major Texas cities