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Resource Center for Courts on Child Trafficking

Trafficking occurs every day across the U.S. and can happen to any child. Children involved in child welfare and the juvenile justice system are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims. As laws and systems change to identify and recognize sex trafficking as child abuse and victimization, processes to respond adequately to the specialized and complex needs of this population are critical to the NCJFCJ. The NCJFCJ believes juvenile and family court judges play an important role in identifying child sex trafficking victims. Together, community and systems collaboration can better serve victimized children. 

Our Policy 

Through a resolution adopted by the NCJFCJ Board of Directors in February 2013, the NCJFCJ opposes the criminalization of victims of child sexual exploitation and supports state laws and policies that are in line with the federal definition of a minor victim of human trafficking. What is the definition of human trafficking under U.S. federal law? The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines “severe forms of human trafficking” as: The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for • sex 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; or • labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. Coercion includes threats of physical or psychological harm to children and/or their families. Any child (under the age of 18) engaged in commercial sex is a victim of trafficking. 

The NCJFCJ promotes the development of specialized services and resources for victims of child sex trafficking from the child welfare system, the juvenile justice system, and within the community at large. These services should include, but not be limited to, the development of non-detention triage facilities and specialized placement options that are equipped to address effectively the unique trauma suffered by victims of child sex trafficking. 

Our Vision 

The NCJFCJ is committed to a future where children who are the victims of sex trafficking are identified as victims and provided appropriate trauma-informed services. Judges should be well educated about child sex trafficking to be better informed in their decision making and take a leadership role in communities to coordinate responses to domestic child sex trafficking. 

This project was supported by grant 15POVC-21-GK-02767-HT awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime.