2015 | Shared Hope International

While there is growing recognition at the federal, state and local levels that youth caught in the commercial sex industry are victims of exploitation rather than willing participants in criminal activity, in the 15 years since the Trafficking Victims Protection Action (TVPA) of 2000 was enacted, the majority of state prostitution laws have remained at odds with the federal definition of a juvenile sex trafficking victim .2 Only recently have state agencies that regularly interact with juvenile sex trafficking victims begun to screen the youth they serve for possible commercial sexual exploitation,3 and even when victims are screened, staff may lack the training to accurately identify trafficking . Yet another barrier arises when victims are identified but appropriate services are not available, leaving overburdened state agencies with an impossible task of connecting a victim to services that do not exist, or the multiple individuals and agencies working with this population are left to develop protocols in silos, resulting in victims touching multiple systems with no coordinated response .