NCJFCJ Recognizes January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January 5, 2017

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) recognizes National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month as an opportunity to call attention to the issue of domestic child sex trafficking (DCST) and the judiciary’s efforts to improve outcomes for child victims. Children, who are involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, whether presently or in the past, are vulnerable to being victimized by traffickers. Judges have an important role in preventing victimization and intervening to change the trajectory for children at risk. Around the country, judges are recognizing this role and taking action.
 
Since 2014, the NCJFCJ, with partners Rights4Girls and the Office on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, has hosted four National Judicial Institutes on Domestic Child Sex Trafficking and educated more than 90 judges from 30 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico on DCST. The Institute takes an interactive and in-depth approach to educating judges to be better able to identify victims and children at risk of DCST; determine treatment and services needed to assist child victims; and exercise judicial leadership within the court and community to improve outcomes for victims. Registration for the next Institute is open and will take place on March 6-7, 2017 in Austin, Texas. 
 
More than 210 additional judges were educated in 2016, when the judiciaries of Wisconsin and Ohio contracted with the NCJFCJ to provide “mini” judicial institutes on domestic child sex trafficking for their states.
 
In addition to providing in-person trainings, the NCJFCJ published two new publications in 2015 to assist judges and Native communities in responding to trafficking: Missing Children, State Care, and Child Sex Trafficking: Engaging the Judiciary in Building a Collaborative Response and Creating a Human Trafficking Strategic Plan to Protect and Heal Native Children and Youth.
 
More recently, the NCJFCJ updated its resolution regarding DCST, which highlights the power of judges to help prevent child sex trafficking. Over the past two years, the NCJFCJ has also been able to pass a number of resolutions that take in account a child’s welfare if he or she has been a victim of trafficking – i.e. trauma-informed courts, shackling, adolescent brain development, oversight of children in group facilities, and solitary confinement for youth.
 
One more important step forward was the release of the new Enhanced Resource Guidelines in 2016, which now includes important information for judicial officers to help address the needs of victims of sex trafficking.
 
To further raise awareness for this important issue, this month the NCJFCJ will be publishing articles from judges, advocates, and survivors on the different facets of DCST and the judge’s role in creating change for victims and children at risk. 
During the month of January, and all year long, the NCJFCJ looks forward to educating judges and other professionals about DCST. Our commitment to improving outcomes for trafficking victims through judicial education is long-term. We hope you will join us in these efforts!