Considerations for Involving Law Enforcement and Family

If the young person gives permission, you can involve police and family any time. As you are building the young person’s treatment plan, you may need to include steps that will involve the appropriate law enforcement agencies, family members, and the courts. Work with family and law enforcement to take a victim-centered approach that holds exploiters—not victims—accountable.

Work closely with the young person to understand his/her relationship with their family. You may want to discuss with them the possibility of informing family members if you believe their involvement would aid the young person’s recovery. However, it is important to involve the youth while making these decisions. If possible, please work with a multidisciplinary team to ensure a victim-centered approach while dealing with law enforcement. This team can include mental health providers and legal and victim advocates.

If the young person does not give permission, what you do may depend on his or her age. If you are a “mandated reporter,” you may be legally required to inform the police about a victim who is a minor if you have enough information for local law enforcement to file a report. Remember to develop a plan before contacting law enforcement to ensure a trauma-informed approach will be used while working with law enforcement. For older youth who don’t want law enforcement to get involved, it may be hard to get police or the courts to help. However, youth still can receive services and assistance from your organization.

If contacting family is part of the agreed-upon treatment plan or a condition for a youth to receive services from your agency, getting in touch with family members who could aid the young person’s recovery may still be necessary. 

Explain what information will be shared with the family. If you have only had a short relationship with the young person or he or she will only stay in your shelter for a few days, you might choose not to contact family or to wait until you have a stronger relationship with the victim and he or she has committed to a treatment plan.

Next: Final Thoughts on Aiding Young Victims of Sex Trafficking

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