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Safe Harbor: Fulfilling Minnesota's Promise to Protect Sexually Exploited Youth

In 2011, Minnesota passed the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth Act (Safe Harbor 2011), laying the groundwork for a victim-centered response to sexually exploited children and those at risk of sexual exploitation. Safe Harbor 2011 defined prostituted children as the victims of sexual exploitation, ended reliance on delinquency proceedings as the sole systems response to meeting the needs of these crime victims, and called for the creation of a framework for implementation of the changes to the delinquency definition, which become effective on August 1, 2014.

In spite of the strong protections enshrined in the law, Safe Harbor 2011 is limited. Its provisions apply only to children age 15 and under; sex trafficking victims ages 16 and 17 are not protected. Moreover, Safe Harbor 2011 does not provide the mechanisms or the funding to implement the changes to Minnesota's delinquency code when Safe Harbor goes into effect in 2014. Comprehensive supportive services and housing must be funded and implemented immediately so that they are available when Safe Harbor's changes to Minnesota's delinquency definition go into effect in 2014.

This report analyzes Safe Harbor 2011, including the Safe Harbor Working Group process and the comprehensive approach to Safe Harbor which it developed, entitled No Wrong Door: A Comprehensive Approach to Safe Harbor for Minnesota's Sexually Exploited Youth. In addition, this report examines Safe Harbor 2011 against international standards, federal laws, and emerging state practice related to the sexual exploitation of children to identify gaps that remain. ISBN: 0-929293-72-x