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[IWS] CRS: SEX TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES: OVERVIEW AND ISSUES FOR CONGRESS [28 January 2015]

IWS Documented News Service

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Institute for Workplace Studies-----------------Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor--------------------Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

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Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

Sex Trafficking of Children in the United States: Overview and Issues for Congress

Kristin Finklea, Specialist in Domestic Security

Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara, Specialist in Social Policy

Alison Siskin,Specialist in Immigration Policy

January 28, 2015

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41878.pdf

[full-text, 54 pages]

 

Summary

The trafficking of individuals within U.S borders is commonly referred to as domestic human

trafficking, and it occurs in every state of the nation. One form of domestic human trafficking is

sex trafficking. Research indicates that most victims of sex trafficking into and within the United

States are women and children, and the victims include U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike.

Recently, Congress has focused attention on domestic sex trafficking, including the prostitution of

children, which is the focus of this report.

 

Federal law does not define sex trafficking per se. However, the term “severe forms of trafficking

in persons,” as defined in the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA,

P.L. 106-386) encompasses sex trafficking. “Severe forms of trafficking in persons” refers, in

part, to “[s]ex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or

in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.... ” Experts

generally agree that the trafficking term applies to minors whether the child’s actions were forced

or appear to be voluntary.

 

The exact number of child victims of sex trafficking in the United States is unknown because

comprehensive research and scientific data are lacking. Sex trafficking of children appears to be

fueled by a variety of environmental and situational variables ranging from poverty or the use of

prostitution by runaway and “thrown-away” children to provide for their subsistence needs to the

recruitment of children by organized crime units for prostitution.

 

The TVPA has been the primary vehicle authorizing services to victims of trafficking. Several

agencies have programs or administer grants to other entities to provide specific services to

trafficking victims. Despite language that authorizes services for citizen, lawful permanent

resident, and noncitizen victims, appropriations for trafficking victims’ services have primarily

been used to serve noncitizen victims. U.S. citizen victims are also eligible for certain crime

victim benefits and public benefit entitlement programs, though these services are not tailored to

trafficking victims. Of note, specialized services and support for minor victims of sex trafficking

are limited. Organizations specializing in support for these victims may have fewer beds than

might be needed to serve all victims. Other facilities, such as runaway and homeless youth

shelters and foster care homes, may not be able to adequately meet the needs of victims or keep

them from pimps/traffickers and other abusers.

 

In addition, it has been suggested that minor victims of sex trafficking—while too young to

consent to sexual activity with adults—may at times be labeled as prostitutes or juvenile

delinquents and treated as criminals rather than being identified and treated as trafficking victims.

These children who are arrested may be placed in juvenile detention facilities instead of

environments where they can receive needed social and protective services.

 

Finally, experts widely agree that any efforts to reduce the prevalence of child sex trafficking—as

well as other forms of trafficking—should address not only the supply, but also the demand.

Congress may consider demand reduction strategies such as increasing public awareness and

prevention as well as bolstering investigations and prosecutions of those who buy illegal

commercial sex (“johns”). In addition, policy makers may deliberate enhancing services for

victims of trafficking. The most recent reauthorization of the TVPA, in March 2013, reauthorized

some existing provisions, created a new grant program to combat child sex trafficking, and

authorized appropriations through FY2017.

 

Contents

Overview of Sex Trafficking of Children in the United States ........................................................ 1

Conceptualizing Sex Trafficking of Children .................................................................................. 5

Sex Trafficking of Children: Vulnerable Populations ................................................................ 6

Traffickers and Buyers .............................................................................................................. 7

Current Law ............................................................................................................................... 8

Federal Response to Sex Trafficking of Children ............................................................................ 9

Investigations of Child Sex Trafficking Offenses.................................................................... 16

Department of Justice (DOJ) ............................................................................................. 17

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ........................................................................ 20

Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center ....................................................................... 20

Services for Child Victims of Sex Trafficking......................................................................... 20

Selected Issues ............................................................................................................................... 24

Funding and Authority to Assist U.S. Citizen and LPR Victims of Trafficking ...................... 24

Resources for Trafficking Victims’ Services ........................................................................... 27

Availability and Effectiveness of Services and Shelters .......................................................... 28

Response by the Child Welfare System ................................................................................... 29

Trafficking Victims Treated as Criminals or Delinquents ....................................................... 33

Reducing Demand for Minor Sex Trafficking in the United States......................................... 36

Data on Victims and Perpetrators ............................................................................................ 37

 

Tables

Table 1. Programs Authorized by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as Amended, That Could Address Sex Trafficking of Children within the United States ................................ 11

Table A-1. Number of Suspected Child Sex Trafficking Victims in Selected Locations ............... 41

 

Appendixes

Appendix A. Selected Studies Measuring Sex Trafficking of Children ......................................... 39

Appendix B. Trafficking Victim Services for Noncitizens ............................................................ 44

Appendix C. Other Possible Federal Responses to Sex Trafficking of Minors ............................. 48

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 51

 

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This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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