Responding to Child Victims of Human Trafficking - Oklahoma

Date: December 2018

State Agency Responsibilities

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 21, § 748.2; Tit. 10A, § 1-9-123

Any peace officer or employee of a district court, juvenile bureau, or Office of Juvenile Affairs who has reasonable suspicion that a minor may be a victim of human trafficking and is in need of immediate protection shall assume protective custody over the minor and immediately notify the Department of Human Services. The minor shall be transferred to the emergency custody of the department pursuant to the provisions of title 10A, § 1-4-201. While in custody of the department, the minor shall be provided with any necessary emergency social services, including, but not limited to, medical examination or treatment or a mental health assessment.

Law enforcement and the department shall conduct a joint investigation into the claim.

The minor shall remain in the custody of the department until the investigation has been completed but for no longer than 2 judicial days, for the show-cause hearing.

The department may release the minor to the custody of a parent or legal guardian if it determines the minor will not be subject to further exploitation. If no such determination is made, the minor shall be subject to the deprived child provisions of the Oklahoma Children's Code and made eligible for appropriate child welfare services.

When notified a child or youth has run away or is missing from a foster placement, the department shall, within 24 hours of notification, report such status of the child or youth to local law enforcement, the National Crime Information Center, and to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The department shall develop and implement specific protocols to do the following:

  • Expeditiously locate any child or youth missing from foster care
  • Determine the primary factors that contributed to the child or youth running away or otherwise being absent from foster care
  • Respond, to the extent possible and appropriate, to those factors that contributed to the absence from care or runaway behaviors in the current and subsequent placements of the child or youth
  • Determine what the child or youth experienced while absent from care, including an appropriate screening to determine if the child or youth is a possible victim of sex trafficking

The department shall report to law enforcement authorities immediately, and in no case later than 24 hours, after receiving information on a child or youth who has been identified as being a sex trafficking victim.

The policies and procedures shall be developed for every child or youth over whom the department has responsibility for placement, care, or supervision and shall apply when the department has reasonable cause to believe a child or youth is currently, or is at risk of being, a victim of sex trafficking, including a child or youth to whom any of the following applies:

  • For whom the department has an open case file but has not been removed from the home
  • Who has run away from foster care and who has not reached age 18
  • Who is not in foster care but is receiving services

Training Requirement

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, § 1-9-123

The department shall, in consultation with State and local law enforcement, juvenile justice systems, health-care providers, education agencies, and organizations with experience in dealing with at-risk children and youth, establish policies and procedures, including relevant training for caseworkers, for identifying, documenting in agency records, and determining appropriate services for children and youth at risk of sex trafficking.

Diversion From Prosecution

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 21, § 748.2

The minor shall not be subject to juvenile delinquency proceedings for prostitution or other nonviolent misdemeanor offenses committed as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking. It shall be an affirmative defense to delinquency or criminal prosecution for any misdemeanor or felony offense that the offense was committed during the time of and as the direct result of the minor being the victim of human trafficking.

Services and Supports for Victims

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 21, § 748.2

Human trafficking victims shall be assisted as follows:

  • Be housed in an appropriate shelter as soon as practicable
  • Not be detained in facilities inappropriate to their status as crime victims
  • Not be jailed, fined, or otherwise penalized due to having been trafficked
  • Receive prompt medical care, mental health care, food, and other assistance, as necessary
  • Have access to legal assistance, information about their rights, and translation services, as necessary
  • Be provided protection if the safety of the victim is at risk or if there is a danger of additional harm by recapture of the victim by a trafficker, including both of the following:
    • Taking measures to protect trafficked persons and their family members from intimidation and threats of reprisals
    • Ensuring that the names and identifying information of trafficked persons and their family members are not disclosed to the public

Support for Anti-Trafficking Efforts

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.