Hundreds of children and youth suffer sexual exploitation in Washington every day. Sexual and physical abuse at home, mental health issues, or homelessness contribute to a youth’s vulnerability to exploitation. All too often, these kids continue to slip through the cracks because service providers fail to recognize it is happening. Children go without critical services and are sent back to the streets, and to their abusers—or are traumatized by a justice system that treats them like criminals, instead of victims.
What We’re Doing:
- Collecting statewide data to learn more about commercially sexually exploited children. We’re conducting a comprehensive data project on commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC), ages 11 to 18 in Washington, to track their identities, life situations, and experiences. From the data reported by participating agencies in 2016, we’re learning that suspected CSEC youth were disproportionately youth of color and 24 percent male. Thirty-five percent attended school in the last term and 32 percent still lived with a parent or relative. Many are exploited while in the care of the state as foster youth.
- Implementing a statewide protocol to reduce child prostitution. CCYJ’s Project Respect coordinates implementation of the Washington State Model Protocol for CSEC, which was developed with over 200 partners across the state. The majority of Washington residents live in an area helped by this victim-centered protocol.
- Building a victim-centered response network to support children. We’re creating a statewide, victim-centered response network for commercially sexually exploited children to identify and help them recover from the exploitation and coercion they have endured.