January | February 2018

How OJJDP Is Combating the Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children

Photo of a girlEvery January, communities across the country observe National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month with programs and activities aimed at preventing and ending all forms of human trafficking. OJJDP’s efforts to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children include research and programs, training and technical assistance, and resources and publications.

The Office’s Mentoring Child Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking initiative provides funding to organizations that are developing or enhancing their mentoring capacity, facilitating outreach efforts, and increasing the availability of direct services for this vulnerable population. With support from OJJDP’s National Mentoring Resource Center, the grantees use evidence-based mentoring practices and provide supportive services to respond to the needs of victims and at-risk youth.

To further ensure that trafficked children receive the critical services necessary to help them achieve long-term holistic recovery, OJJDP is developing trauma-informed, victim-centered resources. Just this month, OJJDP released Shining Light on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Toolkit To Build Understanding in partnership with the Wichita State University Center for Combating Human Trafficking and MANY. The toolkit provides information on a variety of topics related to human trafficking, with a focus on mentoring for victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In one easy-to-access location, users can find information about emerging research and best practices; implications for practice at the individual, program, and community levels; and additional materials for further study.

OJJDP also facilitates training and technical assistance (TTA) on issues related to missing and exploited children. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, with OJJDP funding, developed the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Child Sex Trafficking to help judicial officers better understand the dynamics of domestic child sex trafficking, the applicable laws and legal considerations involving trafficking victims, how to identify trafficked and at-risk children, and how to connect these youth to appropriate services.

Through its Missing and Exploited Children Training and Technical Assistance program, the Office trains multidisciplinary teams of prosecutors, state and local law enforcement, child protection personnel, medical providers, and other child-serving professionals on effective responses to missing and exploited children’s issues, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

OJJDP’s National AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance program aims to improve law enforcement agencies’ responses to missing, endangered, and abducted children, including those who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. The program provides individualized TTA for American Indian and Alaska Native communities. TTA360, the Office’s training and technical assistance portal, offers webinars and resources on a variety of topics, including combating child exploitation and trafficking.

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a serious problem in the United States, and it is facilitated by ready access to the Internet. Through a national network of 61 coordinated task forces, OJJDP’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program helps state and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and Internet crimes against children. These efforts encompass forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, prevention, and community education. Through the ICAC program, OJJDP supported more than 2,000 regional law enforcement trainings on child exploitation in fiscal year 2017.

OJJDP also supports the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), which serves as an information clearinghouse and resource for those who are searching for missing children and working to address child victimization and sexual exploitation. The center operates a 24-hour toll-free Missing Children’s Hotline and a CyberTipline. During 2017, NCMEC helped resolve cases involving 26,041 children who were reported to be missing.

More information about these and other OJJDP initiatives to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children is available on the Office’s website.


OJJDP’s online Model Programs Guide provides information about evidence-based programs to help children exposed to violence and victimization. The guide also includes reviews of research literature on the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of children.

Access a comprehensive list of services for trafficking survivors on the OJJDP website.

Read Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. This OJJDP-sponsored report from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council examines the extent and nature of the problem and strategies to address it.