• September 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 8

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Addressing the Sexual Exploitation of Minors

All too often, minors who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking are treated as criminals instead as victims. A new publication from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council provides guidance on understanding the nature and scope of the problem and recommendations for improved policy and practice.

The guide is tailored to the needs of providers of victim and support services for children and adolescents who have experienced or are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. In this case, the term victim services providers includes policymakers and practitioners, as well as child welfare and child protective services agencies and programs.

The overarching concern of the guide is that service providers understand that minors who are sexually exploited or trafficked for sexual purposes should not be considered criminals, and such exploitation should be understood as acts of abuse and violence against children and adolescents. The scope of the guide includes definitions of relevant terms; a set of guiding principles; a summary of the extent of the problem; an overview of risk factors and consequences; strategies for identifying, preventing, and responding to these crimes; and approaches to providing services for victims and survivors.

Information on ordering print copies or downloading an electronic copy of Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States: A Guide for Providers of Victim and Support Services can be found the website of the National Academies Press:


The content of the guide was derived from a larger, more comprehensive report, Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States, which was published in 2013. The original report details the efforts to study the extent of the sexual exploitation of minors in the United States, increase awareness and understanding of the problem, examine emerging strategies for preventing and identifying these crimes, and provide guidance on assisting and supporting victims and survivors.

The study and both publications were funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The 2013 report is available from the Institute of Medicine website:


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