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Department of Child Services & Human Trafficking in Indiana

It can be difficult for Americans to admit that some of humanity’s biggest problems don’t just happen “somewhere else.” No state is immune from social ills like poverty, hunger, illiteracy, discrimination, and human trafficking. That’s right. This modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain happens right here in Indiana. In fact, we have one of 42 task forces set up by the U.S. Justice Department to address the growing crime. It’s called IPATH: the Indiana Protection of Abused and Trafficked Humans.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, operated by Polaris Project since December 2007, has received calls, emails, and online tips from every state in the union. In 2015 alone, over 240 calls were from Indiana. Nationwide, 75 percent of the cases were trafficking for commercial sex purposes and 33 percent involved minors. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 100,000 minors are estimated to be in the commercial sex trade in the United States.

One of the recent responses to this issue in the Hoosier State is Senate Bill 305, which was signed into law and goes into effect July 1, 2016. The bill amends Public Law 46 to expand the definition of a child who is in need of services by the Department of Child Services to include a child who, before the age of 18:

  • lives in the same household as an adult who has been convicted of a human or sexual trafficking offense, or
  • lives in the same household as an adult who has been charged with a human or sexual trafficking offense and is awaiting trial, or
  • who has been a victim of human or sexual trafficking,

AND

  • needs care, treatment, or rehabilitation that he or she is not receiving that is unlikely to be provided or accepted without the coercive intervention of the court.

The bill further provides that the “reasonable efforts” to reunify a child with the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian or preserve a child’s family as described in the statute are not required if the court finds that a parent, guardian, or custodian of a child who is a child in need of services has been convicted of promotion of human trafficking, promotion of human trafficking of a minor, sexual trafficking of a minor, or human trafficking as a felony. The reunification efforts may also be suspended until any pending criminal charges are disposed of.

The bill recognizes a child to be a victim of human or sexual trafficking regardless of whether he or she consented to the conduct, and applies that definition to any child who is “recruited, harbored, transported, or engaged in: (1) forced labor; (2) involuntary servitude; (3) prostitution; (4) child exploitation, as defined in IC 35-42-4-4(b); (5) marriage, unless authorized by a court under IC 31-11-1-6; or (6) trafficking for the purpose of prostitution or participation in sexual conduct as defined in IC 35-42-4-4(a)(4).”

Allowing children who live in such circumstances to be placed with child services is a positive step forward for their protection and toward reducing these crimes in our state. If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the family law attorneys at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law. We have years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in New Albany, Indiana, we proudly serve communities throughout Kentuckiana; Floyd County, IN; and Clark County, IN. Contact us by calling (812) 725-8224 or using our online form.

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