As part of its primary effort to realize human dignity across the board, the Renewal Forum publishes comprehensive white papers on a variety of topics and issues. Recent publications are available here.

Renewal Forum and Paul Hastings Report Finds Child Protective Services Limited in Its Ability to Aid Child Victims of Sexual Exploitation

The state agency that should be leading the fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children – Child Protective Services (CPS) – is, in most states, either sitting on the sidelines or very limited in its capacity to respond, according to a new report  “Falling Through the Cracks:  Rethinking Child Protective Services’ Response to Victims of Child Sex Trafficking in the U.S.” prepared by the Renewal Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting respect for human dignity, with the assistance of Paul Hastings, a leading global law firm. The report was released today on the heels of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which is observed annually in the U.S. on January 11 to raise awareness of sexual slavery and human trafficking.

Although CPS workers are the best qualified to navigate the process of interacting with traumatized children, the report reveals that in 24 states CPS agencies are legally excluded from assisting children who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The report provides a state-by-state review and analysis of CPS mandates and relevant authorizing legislation. It found that mandates for CPS agencies and statutory definitions of abuse are often written in a way that restricts the reach of CPS services only to children being abused by a parent or guardian, with the appalling consequence that CPS is not authorized to help children who have suffered abuse at the hands of a trafficker.

“The sex trafficking of children in the United States is more prevalent than most realize, and the failure of Child Protective Services Agencies to intervene is very troubling,” said Steven Wagner, President of the Renewal Forum. “Lawmakers can remove the obstacles that stand in the way of helping these exploited children by changing a few key aspects of the Child Protective Services mandate and related statutory provisions so as to include victims of sex trafficking. We urge them to act quickly to empower state child welfare agencies to come to the aid of child victims emerging from the trauma of trafficking,” he added

“Paul Hastings was pleased to be able to contribute to the development of this impactful report through the undertaking of important legal research,” said Rebecca Eggleston, an associate at Paul Hastings. “It is a tragedy that the commercial sexual exploitation of children is such a prevalent problem in the U.S., but this report helps to highlight that there is a real opportunity to help the children who are being victimized. We hope the information in this report will spur changes that will allow these children to qualify for the protective services they desperately need to help them escape and recover from their abuse.”

In an effort to help the roughly 250,000 children victimized annually by commercial sexual exploitation, the Renewal Forum and Paul Hastings worked together to prepare a comprehensive state-by-state analysis that evaluates the ability of each state’s CPS system to serve victims of child trafficking. The data included all fifty U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with each state assigned a letter grade by the Renewal Forum based on the strength of its individual processes and the ability of CPS to respond to child victims of trafficking.

Paul Hastings lawyers, on a pro bono basis, researched the mission/mandate of each state’s CPS agency and the relevant authorizing legislation, and the Renewal Forum reviewed and analyzed that data to determine whether juvenile victims of commercial sexual exploitation fall within the population served by CPS. Based on the results of this research and analysis, the Renewal Forum assigned each state a letter grade.


Key conclusions of the report include:

  • Twenty-four states received a failing grade with respect to the ability of their CPS agency to respond to trafficked children, and six more received a “D,” while only nine states received a grade of “A,” four received a “B” and nine received a “C.”


  • Because CPS agencies are constrained by current legislation, every year nearly a thousand commercially sexually exploited children who are actually discovered end up in the hands of law enforcement, rather than being placed with CPS.


  • The alternative to a CPS response often involves the child being declared to be a “child in need of supervision” (CHINS) by a judge; the CHINS process brings the child within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and may treat the child as a criminal rather than a victim, sometimes even resulting in the child being sent to juvenile detention.


  • In 24 states reviewed, only a child’s parent or guardian may initiate the CHINS process, preventing others who are in a position to help the child – teachers, social workers, friends or neighbors – from starting the process of obtaining services for the child.

Among other recommendations, the report urges states to:

  • Change CPS mandates to include the provision of services for victims of sex trafficking;


  • Amend certain statutory definitions to include trafficking in the definition of abuse and include those who perpetrate or allow trafficking among the individuals responsible for the welfare of a child, such that children abused or subjected to abuse by a trafficker could receive services; and
  • Align their criminal trafficking statutes with the current federal statute, which does not require a showing of force, fraud or coercion to find that a minor has been trafficked, and enact a safe harbor provision that protects child victims of sex trafficking by making them immune from prosecution for prostitution.

The entire report can be viewed here.

Paul Hastings LLP is a leading global law firm with offices in Asia, Europe, and the United States. We provide innovative legal solutions to financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies. Please visit for more information.

Falling Through the Cracks: Rethinking Child Protective Services' Response

Falling Through the Cracks

Legal analysis of Backpage v. State

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014 the Washington State Supreme Court heard arguments on the case of Backpage LLC v Mckenna. In it, two teenage girls allege that Backpage should be held liable for their abuse that happened after they were advertised for sex on Backpage. In particular, they invoke a statute that Washington passed in 2012 which made it a felony to advertise sex acts with minors. This case, along with the other cases analyzed below, is the latest of a series of cases where states try to hold internet providers liable for third party advertisement of sex with a minor.
This memo was originally prepared by Hannah Kim in summer of 2013 when these cases were first appearing and the Renewal Forum was consulting with states as to whether there could be a law holding Backpage and similar corporations that profit off the sexual exploitation of others that held up to constitutional muster. The Renewal Forum ultimately determined that it would be almost impossible to write a state law that was not preempted by the Communications Decency Act’s (CDA) immunity. The memo dissects the reasoning of the court cases so far and explains this conclusion.

Internet Provider Liability Memorandum

Robert P. George Article "Fighting Against Human Trafficking"

Check out this timely article by Robert George, Renewal Forum Board member, about fighting human trafficking.

A Briefing on Human Trafficking and the Exploitation of Juveniles in Kansas

The purpose of this memorandum is to argue that human trafficking is urgently relevant to the mainstream of our society, and the conclusion is this: What we do on human trafficking should be seen as an integral part of a strategy to make Kansas safe for kids.

Exploitation in Kansas – A Briefing

An Evaluation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011

On June 29th, 2011, Senator Patrick Leahy, cosponsored by Sen. Boxer, Sen. Scott Brown, Sen. Cardin, Sen. Cochran, Sen. Feinstein, Sen. Gillibrand, Sen. Kerry, Sen. Rubio, Sen. Wyden introduced senate bill 1301, known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011, in order to extend the work that the United States has done to fight trafficking in the world. This bill provides many valuable amendments to better protect international victims, but it is still a long way from adequately protecting those victims who are U.S. citizens and residents.

An Evaluation of TVPA

Legislative Response to the Commercial Sex Exploitation of Children

This toolbox is to intended to give legislators the framework for properly considering what an individual state needs in order to address the sexual exploitation of children in the United States.

A Legislature’s Checklist

Why Sex Trafficking Should Not Have a Statute of Limitation

Statutes of limitation designate a particular time frame within which a prosecution must be commenced. The inherent policy behind a statute of limitation is to adequately provide a defendant the needed resources, many of which are time sensitive, in order to mount a competent defense. A secondary purpose may be to encourage law enforcement to promptly investigate and prosecute crimes. The average statute of limitation for a federal crime is 5 years. However, more serious crimes—often capital crimes—do not have a statute of limitation.

Human Trafficking Statute of Limitations Report

Exploitation as Mitigating Factor in the Prosecution of Prostitution

Criminal procedures, trafficking, prostitution-related criminal laws, and political environments vary widely across the United States, which means enacting effective mitigation laws will require a nuanced approach specifically tailored to each state. Thus while the Renewal Forum puts forward a model text, it is with the realization that different situations will call for variations on this theme. However, at the basic level the following elements are essential to effective legislation aimed at rescuing and reintegrating victims caught in the commercial sex industry after being trafficked as minors.

Explanation of Model Mitigation Statute and Example Provision

How Caylee's Law Can Help Fight the Sex Exploitation of Children

The acquittal of Casey Anthony in the murder trial over daughter Caylee led to public outrage and demand for legislative change. The real catalyst of the outrage and public damnation was Casey’s failure to report two-year old Caylee missing for 31 days. This high profile case resulted in new state legislation, spurred by constituent demands and online petitions, which has taken the name of “Caylee’s Law.” The various state legislation consists of some combination of three parts: criminalization of a failure to report a missing a child, criminalization of a failure to report a dead child, and increased penalties for providing false reports to police regarding a missing child. While this new legislation is controversial to some, it may prove beneficial in states’ efforts to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Caylee’s Law Report

Renewal Forum Position on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization 2012

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a federal law intended to improve America’s response to crimes targeting women, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. VAWA was first enacted in 1994 and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. It is currently up for reauthorization again.

Renewal Forum Position on VAWA Reauthorization 2012

Online Monitoring of CSEC in Milwaukee 2008

The Renewal Forum enlisted the KlaasKids foundation to conduct online monitoring of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area for the commercial sexual exploitation of children in December of 2008. This report summarizes those results.

Online Monitoring of CSEC in Milwaukee 2008


How Many Juvenile Victims of Human Sexual Trafficking Are There?

This paper uses peer-reviewed social science literature to estimate the number of minors victimized by human trafficking in the United States and, out of that amount, how many are runaways, homeless, and throwaway youth.

Download the paper here.

An Examination of State Laws on Human Trafficking

This comprehensive paper looks at state laws on human trafficking and gives each state a letter grade based on four categories; criminalization, protecting victims, holistic help, and age of a minor.

Download the paper here.




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