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The need for long-term and specialized care to treat child sex-trafficking victims is increasing. For decades, rescued children wound up being arrested and thrown into the juvenile justice system. But that’s changed in recent years, as states have moved to steer victims toward treatment. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have eliminated criminal liability for minors, with all but one state making the change since 2010, according to Shared Hope International , which works to prevent the conditions that lead to sex trafficking. Experts say some states are reluctant to follow suit due to a lack of services for the children.

“We need more safe spaces where survivors can heal and re-enter their communities,” said Rebecca Epstein, executive director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown Law.

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