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Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children


Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute


CJPRI faculty, Dr. Emily Salisbury, and PSU alumna, Kelli Russell, collaborated to create a process of identifying victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation in juvenile detention called InterCSECt.


Rationale for InterCSECt


Children in custody settings frequently have characteristics that parallel those of victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC). With this in mind, detention officers and probation counselors often have more interaction with possible victims than other agencies providing youth services. Implementing a screening protocol at the time of intake provides detention officers the opportunity to intervene and break the cycle of victimization. This identification process has successfully identified victims, increased victim access to community services and legal advocates, and assisted law enforcement in holding the abusers accountable. Most importantly, this provides an opportunity to acknowledge the victimization of these youth and present them an opportunity to escape a traumatic and violent cycle. In this vein, the InterCSECt protocol and referral process is intentionally advocacy centered. Services offered to suspected or confirmed victims are voluntary.


InterCSECt Instrument and Protocol


The instrument is a brief, semi-structured interview asking non-invasive questions that reflect common characteristics among sexually exploited youth. Questions focus on a child’s runaway history (looking for chronic runaways), the number and location of contacts with law enforcement (self-reported and confirmed through official record), and current living situation (focus on unwillingness to provide address, “couch-surfing,” boyfriends, etc.). Additionally, the tool incorporates a behavioral observation component to assist in identifying potential cues of victimization, such as excessive cash, hotel keys, tattoos, brands, officer report, arrest location, associates, and/or concerning comments made by youth.


InterCSECt emphasizes the importance of mandatory reporting, focusing on any and all physical or sexual abuse reported during the intake process. The presence of risk factors would result in an immediate referral to trauma-informed advocates. Advocates subsequently collaborate with suspected or confirmed victims (with her/his consent), and connect with services using an established case management, wraparound process with a multidisciplinary team. It is critical that the case management and referral process be established prior to implementation of the InterCSECt instrument in order to ensure services are available, thus minimizing harm to possible victims. The multidisciplinary team is comprised of representatives from law enforcement, medical (SANE Nurses), mental health, juvenile justice, advocacy, shelter, and education (SRO’s). Members of this team will receive education and training on CSEC and the InterCSECt protocol.


For those interested in learning more about the InterCSECt instrument and protocol, please contact Kelli Russell, MS at


Salisbury, E. J., & Dabney, J. D. (2010). Youth Victims of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in Clark County Juvenile Court: Implementing an Identification and Diversion Process. Portland, OR: Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute, Portland State University. 



Kelli Russell, MS 



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