creates a separation between the dependency8 and delinquency9 systems—regardless of the
child’s age10—and provides specific guidelines for carrying out its objectives. 11
The Florida statute is problematic, however, in that it allocates initial decision-making
powers to law enforcement. 12 Further, the Florida statute raises constitutional concerns by
allowing the involuntary confinement of children while finding them not guilty of any crime that
would justify such confinement. 13 These issues could be resolved by amending the statute to
provide clearer guidelines for police officers and by changing the current child-abuse model to
one that better resembles a hybrid version, which includes the criminalization of the minors’ acts.
Despite its shortcomings, the statute is likely to be successful in combating the mistreatment of
prostituted children because it provides a detailed methodology for dealing with sexually-exploited children and training for personnel involved in the process. Improvements to the statute
are likely to come in the near future, as demonstrated by the recent amendments to the statute, 14
because child prostitution has become a popular topic in the policy-making arena. 15
Historically, courts and legislatures have prosecuted child victims of prostitution as
delinquents instead of treating them as victims of horrifying crimes. 16 Recognizing this treatment
as an issue, child rights advocates began efforts to change this construct starting with New York
in 2008.17 Their efforts culminated in what are now known as “safe harbor” laws. 18 When used in
the context of children’s rights, “safe harbor” refers to laws that treat prostituted children as
victims as opposed to criminals, by providing them with treatment instead of punishment. 19
There are three state approaches to child prostitution: ( 1) the child-abuse model; (2) the
prosecution model; and ( 3) the hybrid model. 20 The child-abuse model, exemplified in Boston,
recognizes that child prostitution is often equivalent to child exploitation and that these children
are victims who need treatment and care as opposed to punishment. 21 The prosecution model,
illustrated in Las Vegas, also recognizes that these children are victims, but it posits that the best
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8 Dependency system refers to the family court/civil proceedings that concern the well-being and custody of a child.
9 Delinquency system refers to criminal proceedings.
10 See FLA. STAT. ANN. § 39.01( 69)(g).
11 See id. § 39.001( 5)(b)(2). Consent is used in this Article to refer to the notion that a person freely agrees to engage in a particular
action and it is not forced or in any way coerced into it.
12 FLA. STAT. ANN. § 39.401.
13 Id.; Ryan Benk, Human Trafficking Experts Rally Against Proposed Changes To Safe Harbor Act, WFSU (Mar. 14, 2014, 12:00
AM), http://news.wfsu.org/post/human-trafficking-experts-rally-against-proposed-changes-safe-harbor-act (describing child advocate
Trudy Novicki’s concerns regarding the constitutionality of the proposed amendments to the Florida Safe Harbor Statute later enacted
June 17, 2014).
14 See H.B. 7141, 2014 Leg., Reg. Sess. (Fla. 2014).
15 Many states have continued to legislate on the subject by either amending their current safe harbor statutes or by enacting new
statutes. See CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 53a-82 (West 2015); see 720 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/11-14(d) (West 2015); see MINN.
STAT. ANN. § 260B.007( 6)(c) (West 2015); see N.J. STAT. ANN. § 2C: 13-8 (West 2015); see NEB. REV. STAT. ANN. § 28-801( 5)
16 See, e.g., In re B.D.S.D., 289 S.W.3d 889, 899 (Tex. App. 2009) (finding that a child has engaged in delinquent conduct by
committing the offense of prostitution).
17 See Wendi J. Adelson, Prostitute or Victim of Trafficking?, 6 U. ST. THOMAS L.J. 96, 107 (2008) (discussing New York’s AntiHuman Trafficking statute); Marihug P. Cedeño, Note, Pimps, Johns, and Juvenile Prostitutes: Is New York Doing Enough to Combat
the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children?, 22 CORNELL J.L. & PUB. POL’Y 153, 170– 71 (2012).
18 See Megan Annitto, Consent, Coercion, and Compassion: Emerging Legal Responses to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of
Minors, 30 YALE L. & POL’Y REV. 1, 45 (2011); see Emily Foxhall, A Shelter for Victims of Sex Trafficking Offers Counseling,
Schooling and Safety, N.Y. TIMES (July 14, 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/us/freedom-place-near-houston-provides-
19 See Foxhall, supra note 18.
20 See generally H.B. 0099, 2012 Leg., Reg. Sess. (Fla. 2012) (providing a background explanation for the different models in relation
to child prostitution).
21 See Birckhead, supra note 5, at 1106–07 (describing the My Life, My Choice Project in Boston, a non-profit program that provides
counseling, mentoring, and training aimed at adolescent girls to prevent them from falling prey to prostitution).