psychological or physically abusive tactics, while other perpetrators may provide the child with
illicit drugs to make the child easier to control.28
While the details may be grim and difficult to discuss for even the most seasoned
practitioner, it is important to determine the specifics of a youth’s CSEC experience. Once the
child is identified as commercially sexually exploited, it is crucial to understand the child’s
relationship with his or her perpetrator and the means of exploitation to ensure ongoing safety and
implementation of an effective service plan. The next section will address strategies to obtain this
information and apply it in a way that promotes positive outcomes and avoids re-traumatizing the
III. ADDRESSING CSEC AS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM
Sexually exploited children often come to the attention of the court system through child
welfare, delinquency, or status offense cases.29 In these situations, a court-involved youth may
benefit from the appointment of a GAL or a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
volunteer30 tasked with representing the child’s best interest.31 The precise duties of a best
interest GAL are typically defined and informed by local statute, case law, court practice
standards, or ethical opinions, though some overarching principles do apply.32
Best interest GALs can be especially useful in cases where a CSEC youth’s expressed
interest, such as returning to his or her perpetrator or returning to the community without any
support services in place, may put the youth at continued risk. In status offense and delinquency
cases in particular, the youth is entitled to stated interest representation, meaning the child’s
attorney is duty-bound to advocate for the child’s wishes, even when doing so may increase the
likelihood of future harm.33 Thus, the appointment of an attorney with a countervailing ethical
28 See, e.g., Amy Fine Collins, Sex Trafficking of Americans: The Girls Next Door, VANITY FAIR (May 24, 2011),
http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2011/05/sex-trafficking-201105 (“There are basically two business models: manipulating
girls through violence—that’s called ‘gorilla’ pimping—and controlling them with drugs.”); Alcindor, supra note 19 (noting that
perpetrators may “bait victims by telling them they will be beautiful strippers or escorts but later ply them with drugs -- ecstasy pills,
cocaine, marijuana and the like -- and force them into sex schemes.”).
29 See Malika Saada Saar, Stopping the Foster Care to Child Trafficking Pipeline, HUFFINGTON POST (Oct. 29, 2013),
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/malika-saada-saar/stopping-the-foster-care-_b_4170483.html (noting that in 2013, “Sixty percent of
the child sex trafficking victims recovered as part of a FBI nationwide raid from over 70 cities were children from foster care or group
homes”); Preventing and Addressing Sex Trafficking of Youth in Foster Care: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Human Resources of
the H. Comm. on Ways & Means, 113th Cong. 1-4 (2013) (statement of Rep. Louise M. Slaughter), available at
http://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=746308 (reporting that eighty-five percent of trafficking victims in Representative Louise M.
Slaughter’s (D-NY) home state have prior child welfare involvement); see also Feuerberg, supra note 4 (indicating that “child sex
trafficking victims are frequently misidentified as troubled youth: delinquents and runaways”). “Status offenses are non-delinquent/non-criminal infractions that would not be offenses but for the youth’s status as a minor.” See COAL. FOR JUVENILE
JUSTICE, NATIONAL S TANDARDS FOR THE CARE OF YOU TH CHARGED WI TH S TA TUS OFFENSES 10 (2013).
30 See About Us, COURT APPOIN TED SPECIAL ADVOCS. FOR CHILD.,
http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.5301303/k.6FB1/About_Us__CASA_for_Children.htm (last visited Feb. 3,
2014). Founded in 1977, CASA is a nationwide program in which trained volunteers act as informed advocates for children in the
dependency system. Id.
31 See CHILD WELFARE INFO. GATEWAY, U.S. DEP’T HEATH & HUM. SERVS., DETERMINING THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD 2
(2012), https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/best_interest.pdf (“Although there is no standard definition
of ‘best interests of the child,’ the term generally refers to the deliberation that courts undertake when deciding what type of services,
actions, and orders will best serve a child as well as who is best suited to take care of a child. ‘Best interests’ determinations are
generally made by considering a number of factors related to the child’s circumstances and the parent or caregiver’s circumstances
and capacity to parent, with the child’s ultimate safety and well-being the paramount concern.”).
32 Id. at 2, 6.
33 See In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 40-41 (1967) (holding that in juvenile delinquency proceedings, “which may result in commitment to an
institution in which the juvenile’s freedom is curtailed,” due process requires that the child be represented by counsel); see also id. at
81 n.65 (recognizing that “children need advocates to speak for them and guard their interests, particularly when disposition decisions