JuST Response is a project of the National Restoration Initiative and the Protected Innocence Challenge that brings together Shared Hope’s research on services for domestic minor sex trafficking victims with its analysis of state statutory protective responses. By merging research on implementation and policy analysis, JuST Response seeks to broaden the research in this emerging area to inform legislative efforts and the implementation of existing responses.
A protective response model to juvenile sex trafficking encompasses state and federal statutes, system protocol and implementation, access to available service and community resources, and outcome measurements to evaluate effectiveness in identifying, responding to, and preventing further harm.
Discussing the social and legal importance of ending criminalization of minors for prostitution offenses.
Traffic Stop (2014)
Findings from the National Colloquium 2013: Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Process and Placement for Juvenile Sex Trafficking Survivors; providing insight on current trends for state child serving agency response to domestic minor sex trafficking.
Mapping the statutory structure of service and placement responses to sex trafficking victims to inform promising approaches, pervasive challenges and the need to establish new systems instead of changing existing systems.
Exploring Non-Criminal Response Mechanisms for Child Sex Trafficking
Policy Paper: Eliminating the Third Party Control Barrier to Identifying Juvenile Sex Trafficking Victims (2015)
The impact of defining sex trafficking to include all cases of commercial sexual exploitation of minors.
These system maps analyze the statutory frameworks in each state that shape the potential responses a juvenile sex trafficking victim may encounter.
Sites with Resource Lists
These issue briefs relate to the statutory framework for providing a protective response when juvenile sex trafficking victims come into contact with law enforcement and/or child welfare.
Browse the Protected Innocence Challenge Issue Briefs
- 5.1 Victims under the core child sex trafficking offense include all commercially sexually exploited children.
- 5.2 The state sex trafficking statute expressly prohibits a defendant asserting a defense based on the willingness of the minor under 18 to engage in the commercial sex act.
- 5.3 State law prohibits the criminalization of minors under 18 for prostitution offenses.
- 5.4 State law provides a non-punitive avenue to specialized services through one or more points of entry.
- 5.5 Child sex trafficking is identified as a type of abuse and neglect within child protection statutes.
- 5.6 The definition of “caregiver” or another related term in the child welfare statutes is not a barrier to a sex trafficked child accessing the protection of child welfare.
- 5.7 Crime victims’ compensation is specifically available to a child victim of sex trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).
- 5.8 Victim-friendly procedures and protections are provided in the trial process for minors under 18.
- 5.9 Expungement or sealing of juvenile delinquency records resulting from arrests or adjudications for prostitution-related offenses committed as a result of, or in the course of, the commercial sexual exploitation of a minor is available within a reasonable time after turning 18.
- 5.10 Victim restitution and civil remedies for victims of domestic minor sex trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) are authorized by law.
- 5.11 Statutes of limitations for civil and criminal actions for child sex trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) offenses are eliminated or lengthened sufficiently to allow prosecutors and victims a realistic opportunity to pursue criminal action and legal remedies.
While “safe harbor” is a term often used to describe statutes establishing a non-punitive response for juvenile sex trafficking victims, this represents only one component of a comprehensive state response—avoidance of a criminal justice outcome.
Since the term “safe harbor” derives from the idea of carving out an exemption for minors under the prostitution law, this can imply that minors have agency in deciding to engage in their commercial sexual exploitation and does not emphasize the critical role of access to services.
Due to the important role of language in accomplishing the fundamental paradigm shift from viewing victims as criminals to viewing victims as victims, both statutorily and in practice, we refer to the statutes that direct juvenile victims away from delinquency and into services as protective response laws.