exploitation and sex trafficking may be vulnerable to or have experienced other forms of abuse. Further, these youth frequently are systems-involved and/or in need of or currently receiving some form of support services. As a result, these youth may come into contact with victim and support service professionals. Therefore, these professionals need to be prepared to recognize and address risk for or past or ongoing victimization by commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking among the children and adolescents in their care. Failure to do so increases the possibility that those at risk will become victims and that victims will remain vulnerable to further exploitation and abuse and miss opportunities for assistance.
This chapter begins with an overview of current practices in victim and support services designed to prevent, identify, and respond to the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. The discussion highlights several noteworthy practices for assisting and supporting victims and survivors, including direct care and services, training and education of personnel, and protocols for assisting victims/survivors, among others. The chapter describes work at the federal, state, and local levels by both government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. The chapter then reviews the state of existing research on victim and support services. Next is a discussion of challenges and opportunities related to these services. The chapter concludes with the committee’s findings and conclusions on the role of victim and support service programs and professionals in addressing the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States.
CURRENT PRACTICES IN VICTIM AND SUPORT SERVICES
Nationally, a number of efforts are aimed at providing victim and support services to victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. These include
• curriculum development and education for at-risk children and adolescents, victims and survivors, and service providers;
• training for victim and support service professionals;
• direct care and support services for victims and survivors;
• outreach and public awareness initiatives;
• programs designed to prevent commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors; and
• hotlines (or help lines).
The specific goals, target populations, sources of funding, ideology, and designs of these efforts vary significantly. Examples of each are provided later in this section.