The head of Florida’s juvenile justice agency is hailing the expansion of a new tool to help in the state’s anti-human trafficking efforts.
Back in 2013, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice launched a screening tool looking at what’s called the “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Child, or CSEC,” in three counties: Miami Dade, Broward, and Orange. DJJ Secretary Christy Daly says it’s a project her agency and the Florida Department of Children and Families have been working on.
“From doing that pilot, what the data kind of revealed to us for verified CSEC [Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Child] victims is that they were more likely to have alcohol and drug abuse history, they were twice as likely to have DCF placements, and they were almost three times as likely to have five instances of running away,” said Daly, during a recent meeting of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.
Since its launch in February, Daly says an expanded version of the “Victim Identification Tool” is now in all of DJJ’s juvenile assessment centers across the state.
“We're really excited,” added Daly. “Right now, for DJJ, we are using the tool for kids that we’ve identified that have four or more instances of running away, they’re coming in on charges of sexual perpetrator charges, prostitution, history of sexual abuse, and anyone else that comes in that law enforcement feels could potentially be a victim, or anyone that DJJ staff identify that there may be some warning signs that we’re seeing outside of just those general…”
Daly says so far, DJJ has screened more than 1,100 youth—about a third of which were reported to the state abuse hotline for further investigation.
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