Spotlight on Addressing Sex Trafficking

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Spotlight On...

Addressing Sex Trafficking


January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This month offers an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment in child welfare to identifying children and youth who have been trafficked or are at risk, connecting survivors and their families with trauma-informed services, and helping to stop sex trafficking before it occurs.

While sex trafficking can occur in a variety of family situations and across socioeconomic and racial groups, a combination of factors contributes to risk at four levels: individual (e.g., child maltreatment, substance use), relationships (e.g., social isolation), community (e.g., poverty, limited resources), and society (e.g., sexualization of children)[1].

Holistic strategies support survivors and address the needs of parents, caregivers, and children to stop multigenerational cycles of trauma. Approaches that intervene early to strengthen families and communities bolster protective factors and reduce inequities, which may reduce opportunities for trafficking.


  • Given histories of abuse and trauma, isolation from family and friends, impermanent living situations, and emotional needs, children and youth in foster care—and those who run away from care—can be especially vulnerable to trafficking[2].
  • Children and youth who have experienced trafficking and their families often require individualized, trauma-informed, and coordinated services in the areas of mental health, health care, education, employment, safe housing, reconnection with family and community, legal assistance, life skills, and victim advocacy[3].
  • Because sex trafficking affects individuals, their families, and communities, services may have greater impact when engaging families and communities in addition to individual treatment[4].

Approach to Consider

  • A two-generation (or whole family) approach provides holistic services for survivors, their parents or caregivers, and/or their children and extended family. Services that focus on the whole family seek to ensure that survivors are not retraumatized and help prevent unaddressed trauma from permeating across family relationships. By providing families with more opportunities for economic stability, housing, mental health care, and social supports, two-generation programs address risk and protective factors and, in turn, serve as sex trafficking prevention strategies[5].


The Capacity Building Center for States (Center) provides services and resources that build capacity for identifying survivors of sex trafficking and collaborating to provide comprehensive and trauma-informed services. In addition, the Center offers supports and resources for strengthening families and advancing sex trafficking prevention.

Training Resources on Sex Trafficking

To access the training resources below, login to CapLEARN or create a free CapLEARN account

Article and Publications on Sex Trafficking

Series Focused on Strengthening Families

Related Resources

Related Organizations

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