loyalty, to advocate for what the child needs, not just what the child wants, may be necessary to
secure appropriate assistance for a CSEC youth. This is especially true when the attorneys
representing the government may not be knowledgeable about CSEC,34 and, given the price tag of
some therapeutic services, they may be disinclined to support such treatment at the government’s
expense absent zealous advocacy on the part of a GAL.
A. Finding a CSEC Client
Runaway behaviors are a hallmark of the commercial sexual exploitation of children.35
Thus, finding and accessing a child client may be the advocate’s first challenge in these cases. To
that end, it is often helpful to request a client’s email address during an initial meeting since,
unlike cell phones, email addresses are free to use and are more likely to stay the same over
When trying to track down a client, social media may also be a helpful tool. Even when
children travel across jurisdictions, they may continue to access these accounts and maintain
communication with trusted friends or relatives. Additionally, perpetrators may use others
websites such as Backpage.com, to advertise exploited children.37 Advocates have successfully
located missing youth by searching these websites for potential victims of CSEC.38
Furthermore, GALs should consider using their subpoena power to obtain the log-in
coordinates that clients have used to access certain websites. In Washington, D.C. for example,
counsel appointed in a delinquency or status offender matter may issue a subpoena “for all
helpful evidence and witnesses,” in preparation for an evidentiary hearing.39 Because the child’s
current location is central to the case, advocates have a good faith basis to make these requests.
Once login coordinates have been obtained, a GAL will know which community, even the
particular neighborhood, the child may be in40 and can work with authorities in that jurisdiction to
locate the child. Social media websites have grown more familiar with, and responsive to, these
types of requests.41 Facebook, for example, has developed its own protocol for requesting
information with a subpoena or warrant.42
34 Although the federal government through its executive agencies has shown an interest in CSEC, see, e.g., End Human Trafficking,
U.S. DEP’T HOMELAND SECURITY, https://www.dhs.gov/end-human-trafficking (last visited Mar. 28, 2014), this information is not
always translated to work of line attorneys prosecuting juvenile and status offense cases on the local level.
35 See Red Flags & Risk Factors, FAIR GIRLS, http://fairgirls.org/the-issue/issue-links/resources (last visited Mar. 24, 2014)
(identifying “[c]hronically in abscondence from foster home or group home” as a red flag and risk factor for human trafficking); see
also HUMAN TRAFFICKING, supra note 23 (citing frequently running away from home as an “indicator[ ] that school staff and
administrators should be aware of concerning a potential victim).
36 See B.B. Liu & Lauren McSwain, Presentation at the National Association of Counsel for Children Annual Conference, Session C-
4, “I Lost My Lawyer’s Number”: Practical and Low-Cost Interventions to Assist the Populations Often Present in Family Court
Cases (Aug. 2013) (PowerPoint available at http://www.naccchildlaw.org/?page=2013Material) (discussing clients’ issues with cell
phones such as losing a voicemail from an attorney because their minutes ran out).
37 See Abigail Kuzma, A Letter to Congress: The Communications Decency Act Promotes Human Trafficking, 34 CHILD. LEGAL RTS.
J., Fall 2013, at 23, 30 (indicating that “law enforcement employees involved in sex trafficking cases [ ] point to Backpage as
advertising illegal sex and child sex trafficking victims”); see also Daniel Fisher, Backpage Takes Heat, but Prostitution Ads are
Everywhere, FORBES (Jan. 26, 2012), http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2012/01/26/backpages-takes-heat-for-prostitution-ads-
that-are-everywhere/ (noting that “attorneys general of 48 states sent a letter to Backpage [in August 2011] accusing the company of
being a ‘hub’ for child sex trafficking activity”).
38 See Andrea Powell, Sex Trafficking in America: The Role of Online Advertisers, FAIR OBSERVER (Sept. 26, 2013),
39 SUPERIOR COURT OF D.C. FAMILY COURT IMPLEMENTATION COMM., ATTORNEY PRACTICE STANDARDS FOR REPRESENTING
JUVENILES CHARGED WITH DELINQUENCY OR AS PERSONS IN NEED OF SUPERVISION 21 (2004) (E-1 Motion Hearings) [hereinafter
D.C. ATTORNEY PRACTICE STANDARDS], available at http://www.dccourts.gov/internet/documents/0413a.pdf.
40 There are numerous free web services to help trace IP coordinates to a client’s geographic location. One such website is
41 See Confidential Facebook Law Enforcement Subpoena Guides, PUB. INTELLIGENCE (Oct. 6, 2010),