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Child sex trafficking victims need services, not punishment, say advocates

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NEW YORK, Feb 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Judges in the United States could better help child sex-trafficking victims by giving them services and not punishment when their cases arrive in court, advocates said on Monday.

Providing benefits and programs to young victims would be most effective in U.S. states where laws do not label child sex trafficking as prostitution, they said at a juvenile justice conference in New York.

An increasing number of states have become so-called safe harbors by adopting laws to prevent children from facing criminal charges of prostitution or solicitation. But most states still treat child sex-trafficking victims as criminals.

Judges in safe-harbor states can demonstrate how providing services is an effective alternative to punishment, said Stacy Boulware Eurie, a juvenile-court state judge in California.

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