Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 Vermont Bar Journal, Fall 2017, Vol. 48, No. 3 - Page 37

Sex Trafficking: The Basics Youth in Vermont may be trafficked for sex online or on the streets. Vulnerable populations include runaway and homeless youth, LGBTQ youth, and those involved with the child welfare system. These youth may be induced into commercial sex through a third party - including fam- ily, friends, and relationship partners.  They may also engage on their own – a situation more commonly referred to as survival sex. Often the root cause that enables traffick- ing to occur is an unmet need, with the un- derlying issue being vulnerability, which can be physical, emotional, financial or any other circumstance that allows a trafficker to gain leverage over a youth. Sex Trafficking: Important Nuances and Considerations An important consideration for any re- sponse, program, or policy is the differ- ence between youth trading sex for surviv- al reasons, and youth under the control of a third party. Under both VT law and fed- eral law anyone under the age of 18 en- gaged in commercial sex is a victim of traf- ficking, regardless of the presence of force, fraud, or coercion, and regardless of the in- volvement of a perpetrator. 17 While there are important reasons and good intentions driving this framework, such a blanket defi- nition can also result in misguided policies and wasted resources that fail to recognize and/or address root causes and apply an approach inspired by victimization when the youth does not share that narrative. For example - it is well known that youth that run away or are cast out of their homes sometimes trade sex for food, a place to stay, drugs, or money – all in an effort to www.vtbar.org survive without the basic supports most of people take for granted. It is not un- common for youth to support each other in such situations, sharing information and resources to help one another in their day- to-day needs for basic survival. This sort of transaction – better known as surviv- al sex – is considered to be trafficking just as much as the case where an individual is lured and controlled by a third party and unable to leave out of fear of consequenc- es. The difference is critical, however, with respect to policy considerations. Cases of survival sex call for better social supports and opportunities for marginalized youth, whereas cases involving control by a third party call for involvement of law enforce- ment. The risk, therefore, in conflating sur- vival sex and trafficking is that policies and resources end up focusing on and prioritiz- ing criminal justice solutions and overlook- ing social and systemic concerns. In Vermont, the Department of Children and Families provides ser- vices to any youth under the age of 18 that has been involved in trading sex – whether through the control of a third party or for survival reasons. Labor Trafficking: The Basics Youth in Vermont may also be trafficked for labor (servitude) in a variety of indus- tries including, but not limited to including agriculture, street peddling, and construc- tion. Although no cases have been pros- ecuted to-date in Vermont, there are cases from other jurisdictions that demonstrate just some of the venues where such exploi- tation may occur. In 2015, three individuals were found guilty of labor trafficking in a case involv- ing minors on a farm in Ohio. “[T]he defen- dants and their associates recruited work- ers from Guatemala, some as young as 14 or 15 years old, falsely promising them good jobs and a chance to attend school in the United States.” Instead, the victims were forced to work up to 12 hours a day on a farm, living in unsuitable trailers, and were threatened with physical violence and withheld paychecks in order to compel their labor. Trafficking for labor is not confined to the formal economy, and individuals may be forced to engage in criminalized and stig- matized labor such as selling or transport- ing drugs or begging. Labor Trafficking: Important Nuances and Considerations A notable contrast between sex traffick- ing and labor trafficking of youth under 18 relates to illegal labor and the scope of what are known as Safe Harbor laws. As THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL • FALL 2017 previously noted, youth under 18 engaged in commercial sex are considered victims, even without the presence of a third party exercising control through force, fraud, or coercion. This view has been further codi- fied in many places through so-called Safe Harbor laws, which prevent the arrest and detention of youth engaged in commercial sex because they are considered victims. In contrast, youth under 18 compelled into other forms of illegal labor are rare- ly viewed as victims and rarely receive the same treatment. An example of this would be children forced to sell or trans- port drugs. In the study mentioned above, nearly all of the youth that experienced la- bor trafficking were forced to sell drugs. tion given to sex should not leave the im- pression that labor trafficking of youth un- der 18 does not occur or is any less impor- tant to address or traumatic for those in- volved. According to the Office of Juve- nile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the same populations vulnerable to sex trafficking – including, but not lim- ited to, runaway and homeless youth, LG- BTQ youth, and those involved with the child welfare system – are also vulnerable to labor trafficking. 14 One recent study that interviewed runaway and homeless youth found that 14% of the 641 participants ex- perienced sex trafficking, and 8% experi- enced labor trafficking. Three percent ex- perienced both. 15 Moreover, although there is a difference in the elements of the crime, with labor trafficking of youth under 18 still requir- ing evidence of force, fraud, or coercion, the definition of coercion is expansive and takes into consideration circumstances and special vulnerabilities of the victims, includ- ing age. 16 In 2014, the Vermont Depart- ment for Children and Families, Family Services Division (DCF- FSD), began collecting data with regards to Commercial Sexual Ex- ploitation of Children (CSEC) vic- tims. Since 2014, FSD has tracked 76 reports of suspected human trafficking with most of the iden- tified victims being female. Many of the victims are placed with their families under DCF support and supervision. DCF is a mem- ber of the state-wide task force which includes representation from Vermont State Police, FBI, Homeland Security, Victim Ad- vocates, the Vermont Network, US Attorney’s office and Attor- ney General’s office. There is also a DCF- Family Services Di- vision Human Trafficking work- ing group which has partnered with the state-wide task force to train all the SIU’s around the state on this topic. As the State con- tinues to build awareness in local communities around the signs of human trafficking, more people have been able to identify poten- tial victims. –- Family Services Di- vision of the Vermont DCF. LEGAL NEEDS Child victims of trafficking have diverse needs, often including legal needs. These legal needs may require criminal, civil, or immigration assistance. For example, a child might need help with emancipation or name and gender changes. They might 37