as stated interest attorneys, guardian ad litem (GAL)6 attorneys acting in a child’s best interest, or
special education attorneys.7 This Article is intended to begin that conversation; it is a primer
inclusive of information, legal tools, and advocacy strategies to help move these challenging
Part I of this Article provides a brief overview of the problem of the commercial sexual
exploitation of children, including the basic framework of relevant federal law and currently
available statistical data. Part II explores best practices for guardians ad litem representing
sexually exploited children and provides a range of advocacy tactics available for professionals in
this role. Part III of the Article discusses the educational impact of this exploitation on children,
and suggests ways that parents, working in conjunction with special education attorneys, can
ensure that these children receive appropriate, school-based services to which they are entitled.
The Article concludes with recommendations for systemic advocacy and reform rooted in the
authors’ experiences working on individual cases and a review of current relevant literature.
II. COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES:
The problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth (“CSEC”) goes by
many names: human trafficking,8 prostitution of children,9 domestic minor sex trafficking,10 or
sexual slavery.11 Regardless of the label, advocates must arm themselves with a basic
understanding of the issue in order to be most effective. This section will review CSEC’s
definition in federal law as well as provide an overview of the epidemiology of domestic
commercial sexual exploitation in the United States. This background will provide a foundation
for framing clients’ cases, educating other professionals working with sexually exploited
children, and making requests for tailored services.
6 Guardian ad litem is a Latin term which, literally translated, means guardian “for the lawsuit.” Ad Litem, LEGAL INFO. INST.,
http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/ad_litem (last visited Jan. 28, 2014). GALs are often appointed by the court to represent the best
interests of a particular party in the case, typically a minor child. Id. In many jurisdictions (including the District of Columbia, where
the authors practice), GALs are licensed attorneys, although some states permit lay volunteers to fulfill this role. NAT’L ASS’N OF
COUNSEL FOR CHILDREN, NACC RECOMMENDA TIONS FOR REPRESENTA TION OF CHILDREN IN ABUSE AND NEGLECT CASES 10-11
(2001) [hereinafter NACC RECOMMENDATIONS], available at
http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.naccchildlaw.org/resource/resmgr/docs/nacc_standards_and_recommend.pdf. GALs may be contrasted
to stated or expressed interest attorneys who advocate for the expresses wishes of their clients regardless of age or capacity. Id. at 13.
7 Special education attorneys are attorneys who practice under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) and represent
the parents of children with disabilities. See 20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1400-1474 (West 2014); see also Special Education Lawyers: Do You
Need One?, NOLO LA W FOR ALL, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/special-education-lawyers-29511.html (last visited Jan. 28,
2014) (providing a definition of special education attorneys and special education practice); WRIGHTSLAW, www.wrightslaw.com
(last visited Jan. 28, 2014) (providing general information about special education law to parents, advocates, and the public). Special
education attorneys may represent a parent at meetings where a school determines whether or not a child meets criteria to receive
special education and related services (or is “eligible” for services), at a meeting where a plan is developed to address the impact of a
child’s disability on his or her educational performance (otherwise known as an Individualized Education Program or “IEP”), and at
administrative due process hearings, or the litigation a parent may initiate under IDEA to receive the services a parent deems are
needed by the child, if the school and parent disagree on services. See Special Education Lawyers: Do You Need One?, supra;
8 INST. OF MED. OF THE NAT’L ACAD. OF SCIS., CONFRONTING COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND SEX TRAFFICKING OF
MINORS IN THE UNITED STATES 1 (2013), available at http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2013/Sexual-Exploitation-
9 The Prostitution of Children, U.S. DEP’T JUST., http://www.justice.gov/criminal/ceos/subjectareas/prostitution.html (last visited Jan.
10 Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, FLA. COUNCIL AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE (May 2013), http://www.fcasv.org/child-sexual-abuse/domestic-minor-sex-trafficking.
11 Sex Slavery/Trafficking: Frequently Asked Questions, SOROPTIMIST, http://www.soroptimist.org/trafficking/faq.html (last visited
Jan. 28, 2014).