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May 2, 2013

Policymakers, Researchers and Advocates Convene to Address Child Sex Trafficking in U.S.

First-of-its-kind symposium explores causes and prevention of domestic child sex trafficking in a multidisciplinary, bipartisan and public health framework


This week on May 1 and 2, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the bipartisan Advisory Council on Child Trafficking (ACCT) and the Goldman Sachs Foundation kicked off a major, national symposium to discuss and highlight the needs of victims of domestic child sex trafficking. The symposium is part of a White House initiative, first announced by President Barack Obama at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative, to bring together leading researchers, policymakers, and advocates to identify gaps in research, best practices, and evidence to improve the lives of sexually exploited children.

Speakers included Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, United States Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President Todd Park, Dina Powell, Tory Burch, Elizabeth Smart, and leading scholars from across the country.

"The exploitation of children is a tragedy," said Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "In addition to law enforcement measures, we need a public health approach to determine the extent and impact of sex trafficking in the U.S. and to design interventions to prevent it from occurring."

"Our goals were simple: to create an opportunity for academics, first responders, advocates and policy makers to establish best practices and identify gaps in research and knowledge. From here, we are committed to helping translate research into sound public policy. The clear bipartisan commitment demonstrated by the symposium participants reflects ACCT's organizing principles,” said Autumn Hanna VandeHei, co-founder of the Advisory Council on Child Trafficking.

Said Dina Habib Powell, global head of corporate engagement and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, “We see so much social change that can come from economically empowering women around the world. But there has to be a step one. And that is protecting them. You can’t change the world if you don’t start by protecting women.”

Dr. Steven Moore, founder of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, commented, “Our Center, launched this year, is pleased to be a part of such an important event. Child sex abuse is a public health crisis in this country that affects hundreds of thousands of children every year, and yet we don’t treat it like a behavioral or public health concern. Events like this one bring awareness to an issue that demands a solution: to improve national and international policies targeting child sexual abuse—and especially to develop strong prevention strategies.”

The two-day symposium addressed how mental health research, law enforcement, survivor advocacy, disruptive technology, epidemiology, criminal justice, and public policy can all inform the treatment of victims of sex trafficking.

Current research initiatives were also presented and discussed, including:

  • An analysis of international, regional and national responses and how that can inform domestic efforts
  • Public health implications of trafficking and child sexual exploitation
  • Developing best-practices and protocols in mental health treatment for sex trafficking survivors
  • Developing better coordination of services and support across multiple jurisdictions
  • Suggestions for building a youth-informed research and policy agenda
  • Examination of the role of technology and the Internet in sex trafficking, and how to leverage these tools to combat abuse

Day two of the symposium was a closed session with numerous working groups to generate policy and research recommendations.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health media contact: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or

About the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

As a leading international authority on public health, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is dedicated to protecting health and saving lives. Every day, the Bloomberg School works to keep millions safe from illness and injury by pioneering new research, deploying its knowledge and expertise in the field and educating tomorrow's scientists and practitioners in the global defense of human life. Founded in 1916 as part of the Johns Hopkins University, the Bloomberg School of Public Health is the world’s oldest and largest independent school of public health.

About ACCT

The Advisory Council on Child Trafficking (ACCT) is an all-volunteer bipartisan group of women who are committed to finding cost-effective, evidence-based solutions to domestic child trafficking within the framework of child sexual abuse.

About the Goldman Sachs Group

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities and investment management services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and high-net-worth individuals. Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong and other major financial centers around the world.

About the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

The Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse brings public health expertise and perspectives to the complex policy issues related to child sexual abuse (CSA) by engaging in original scholarly research, agenda-setting public discourse and analysis to improve national and international policies to prevent child sexual abuse.