March 2011

Connecticut's 2010 Safe Harbor Law: Protecting Child Victims of Sex Trafficking in Connecticut

Cari Carson and Annemarie Hillman

Sex trafficking of children occurs across the United States. Each year, an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 adolescents are involved in prostitution in the United States. These children are victims of sexual exploitation by adults. The state's newly passed Safe Harbor law helps to align Connecticut statute with the already existing, progressive practice of treating commercially sexually exploited children as victims rather than criminals. The law prevents children under the age of sixteen from being prosecuted for prostitution. It also states that for children ages 16 and 17 who are being prosecuted for prostitution, there shall be the presumption that they were coerced into committing the offense.

This brief suggests further steps Connecticut should take to prevent and reduce the risk of child exploitation, as well as ensure the recovery and well-being of exploited children, such as collecting comprehensive data about children in Connecticut who are victims of sex trafficking; assessing the effectiveness of current efforts by statewide task forces that aim to reduce the number of child runaways and child victims of prostitution; and investing resources in, and adopt best practices for, preventing children from running away from DCF care.

Issue Area:
Juvenile Justice