“The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry is 12-15 years old.”
Our TRACE initiative established multi-disciplinary, regional networks throughout Middlesex County to respond to allegations of and concerns about the commercial sexual exploitation of children. TRACE stands for Team Response Against Child Exploitation.
The rollout of the Middlesex TRACE program coincided with the passage of Massachusetts's "Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People," commonly known as the Human Trafficking Law, which went into effect in February 2012. The goal of this new law is to address commercial exploitation from three angles: (1) expanding criminal penalties as a deterrent for traffickers; (2) reducing the demand for trafficked labor; and (3) addressing the needs of victims. To accomplish these goals, the law created new crimes, enhanced penalties for some existing crimes, provided protections for victims, and established other tools for prosecutors and policy makers.
The Middlesex TRACE program was launched with multi-disciplinary team (“MDT”) trainings in our Lowell, Framingham, and Cambridge/Malden regions. The trainings included presentations on understanding and responding to victims of exploitation, investigating and prosecuting exploitation cases, providing long-term services to victims of exploitation, and implementing a team response. Attendees included officers from our fifty-four local police departments, supervisors from our DCF Area Offices, juvenile probation officers, victim advocates, forensic interviewers, prosecutors, and representatives from community service agencies.
In partnership with a team from the Massachusetts Child Welfare Trafficking Grant, we are in the process of implementing new policies and practices to foster interagency collaboration and improve our ability to prevent, identify, and respond to exploited youth in Middlesex County. As part of this process, we held trainings in February 2016 on “Understanding and Responding to Victims CSEC” and “CSEC MDT Development” for our community partners, including: DCF; DYS; DPH; DMH; juvenile probation; local, state and federal law enforcement; county, state and federal prosecutors; county, state and federal victim advocates; Middlesex Juvenile Court; CPCS Children and Family Law Division; CPCS Youth Advocacy Division; residential youth treatment programs; emergency service providers; community service providers; schools; and My Life My Choice.
TRACE is committed to holding traffickers accountable and making a positive difference in the lives of exploited children.