For Immediate Release
April 13, 2015
DJJ Launches New Human Trafficking Screening Tool Statewide
Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announces the launch of its new Human Trafficking Screening Tool (HTST) throughout the state of Florida. The HTST, designed to identify juvenile victims of both labor trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), will be used to assess at-risk youth at DJJ intake facilities upon arrest.
The Human Trafficking Screening Tool was developed by a committee consisting of law enforcement officers, community partners, and service providers convened by DJJ in conjunction with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). It was designed based on a similar screening tool that was utilized in a multi-county pilot project conducted by DJJ in 2013 and 2014 created to identify female victims of suspected commercial sexual exploitation. Data from the pilot project revealed that less than 1% of those screened during the project entered with prostitution charges, highlighting the necessity to screen youth for potential human trafficking victimization.
Along with identifying trafficking victims as early as possible, the HTST also aims to partially fill the gap on the lack of research on just how many potential victims and verified victims of labor trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation enter the Florida juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Currently, there is a lack of significant data related to the prevalence of human trafficking in Florida.
Additionally, the tool will serve to inform the development of services within the juvenile justice system necessary to meet the complex needs and address the trauma of trafficking victims with DJJ involvement.
“Florida is a zero tolerance state for human trafficking and DJJ is steadfast in its efforts to end this modern day form of slavery. The Human Trafficking Screening Tool will allow our state to better assess the needs of victims and provide additional information on how to best combat trafficking in Florida,” stated DJJ Secretary Christina K. Daly.
DCF will also utilize the HTST for youth who are reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline with concerns of being trafficking victims and began using the tool today as part of a pilot in Hillsborough and Duval counties, with statewide implementation anticipated in the summer. “Calls to Florida’s Abuse Hotline reporting suspected human trafficking have doubled in the last five years, which means more people are aware of this crime but also that we have much more to learn about the true scope of human trafficking and who these victims are,” said DCF Secretary Mike Carroll. “Too often the victims of human trafficking are unable to recognize they are victims and ask for help, so this tool will help us identify them and provide the services they need to recover and take their lives back.”