By Cherice Hopkins, Staff Attorney, Rights4Girls
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and anti-sex trafficking advocates and juvenile justice advocates have mutual cause to celebrate—the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) after 16 years. Before the Act was signed into law last December, it had not been updated since 2002. During that span of time, much knowledge was gained about youth development and best practices for youth safety and treatment. Likewise, the past decade and a half has seen an increase in the understanding of the prevalence and harms of domestic child sex trafficking, including a growing awareness of the need to end our nation’s carceral response to these young survivors of violence. The updated JJDPA plays a critical role in ensuring that this important knowledge is incorporated into our juvenile justice policies and practices, including those that impact trafficking survivors.