Sex Trafficking is Human Trafficking
As I prepared for this assignment I wanted to research the subject matter of Human Trafficking, I believed this was an international issue that would prepare me for working with issues in third world countries. Instead I was confronted with the realization that this occurs not only in the United States, but in my own state of Wisconsin. The issue at hand, sexual trafficking of minors occurring every day and our role as therapists within this traumatic realm. Experts estimate that nearly 300,000 children are at risk of sexual exploitation in the environment of prostitution every year. Youth who are homeless, neglected, abused by their family members, and runaways are the target of “pimps” who bring them into the world of prostitution, drug abuse, and further physical and mental abuse. United Stated Federal Law states that prostitution is a form of human trafficking, and yet many states do not offer legal protection for minors who are victimized, but rather treat our youth as criminals bringing further trauma to them. (PolarisProject.org) Summary of the Case:
A landmark legal case took place in 2010 in the state of Texas when a Supreme Court ruling was handed down that children in prostitution are victims, not criminals and that child victims of prostitution should be provided counsel, rehabilitation, and treatment services. A child victim should not be placed in a detention system. This ruling stemmed from an incident of a 13 year old girl who consented to sex when she flagged down an undercover police officer and offered to engage in oral sex for twenty dollars and was arrested for prostitution. The trial (Family Court) found her guilty of a Class B misdemeanor of prostitution and was sentenced to 18 months of probation. Later, the court of appeals upheld the previous judgment. However, when presented to the Texas Supreme Court, the case was reversed with a 6-3 decision in favor of the teenager. The Supreme Court argued that a minor under the age of 14 cannot understand the impact of agreeing to engage in sexual activity and therefore cannot fulfill the “knowing” requirement of the prostitution common law. Furthermore, children cannot be considered guilty of an act which involves their own sexual exploitation. When prostitution law was enacted it was not the intention to transform a child victim of sexual exploitation into a juvenile offender. The Supreme Court ruled that when a perpetrator is compelling a minor under the age of 18 to commit prostitution the sentence is a 2nd degree felony and there are harsher penalties if the child is under the age of 14. (Supreme Court of Texas 2010) Ethical and Legal Implications
Sexual exploitation is heinous and regardless of what level it takes place there are actions necessary both legally and ethically that we need to impose and adhere to in our profession to aid in the prevention of this progressing further. Ethically we are guided by our Codes of Conduct as to steps we must take in the event we are exposed to this behavior. Legally most states have mandates or statutes in which we must abide by in order to avoid self-implication and face strict legal penalties. ACA Codes of Conduct:
A.5 (a & b) Current and Former Clients: Sexual counselor-client interactions are prohibited with current and former clients of less than five years from services offered in a counseling relationship. B.2.a Danger and Legal Requirements: Counselors keeping information confidential does not apply when disclosure is required to protect clients or identified others from serious and foreseeable harm. C.6.a Sexual Harassment: Counselors do not engage in or condone sexual harassment as pertaining to sexual solicitation, physical advances, verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature. (ACA Codes 2005) AMHCA Code of Conduct:
I.A.4.a) Exploitive Relationships: Romantic or sexual...
References: Wisconsin Legislative Documents 2014
Polaris Project: For a world without slavery, Sex Trafficking of Minors. PolarisProject.org (2014) http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/policy-advocacy/assisting-victims/safe-harbor
Polaris Project: Landmark Decision: Texas Supreme Court Rules, In Matter of B.W. (2010) Children in Prostitution are Victims, Not Criminals retrieved: http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/policy-advocacy/assisting-victims/safe-harbor
American Counseling Association (ACA). (2005). 2005 ACA code of ethics [White Paper]. Retrieved from http://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/ethics
American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). (2010). 2010 AMHCA code of ethics [White Paper]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.amhca.org/assets/news/AMHCA_Code_of_Ethics_2010_w_pagination.pdf
2010 AMHCA Code of Ethics used with permission of The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA).
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