Georgetown Law Report on Sex Trafficking of Girls Offers Comprehensive Approach

March 20, 2014 —

At least 100,000 American children become victims of commercial sexual exploitation every year, yet domestic sex trafficking remains a largely hidden crime. According to a report published today by the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown University Law Center, even when trafficking comes to light, public agencies typically lack the resources, knowledge, and collaboration to provide victims with necessary support.

The report, Blueprint: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Domestic Sex Trafficking of Girls, identifies the key components of a comprehensive, cooperative approach to tackling this national tragedy. Blueprint stems from a March 2013 conference co-hosted by the Center on Poverty and Inequality, the Human Rights Project for Girls, and The National Crittenton Foundation, which brought together government officials, victims, advocates, and other key stakeholders.

“We must do better for our girls—and this report shows that we can,” said Rebecca Epstein, Executive Director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality and co-author of the report. “Though the scourge of child sex trafficking remains largely invisible, we do see communities that are making real advances on behalf of victims. This report aims to bring those successes to light—so that others might learn from them.”

The Center on Poverty and Inequality’s report highlights a number of hurdles to combatting this issue, including the fact that trafficked girls are often treated as criminals and arrested for prostitution, rather than given the treatment and support they need. The authors make clear that agencies need to work together and receive training to recognize indicators of victimization, particularly since the girls often don’t identify themselves as victims, and offer them the support and services they need.  

The report also contains encouraging news: new approaches are getting positive results. Blueprint examines three jurisdictions — Suffolk County, Massachusetts; Los Angeles County, California; and the state of Connecticut — that have successfully implemented multidisciplinary responses to child sex trafficking. These examples demonstrate the effectiveness of a collaborative approach.

The Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown Law works with policymakers, researchers, practitioners, and advocates to develop effective policies and practices to alleviate poverty and inequality in the United States. Its work includes making recommendations to help marginalized girls, developing policy to combat deep poverty, and developing workforce and education policies and programs for disconnected youth.

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