Updates on our work to address the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)

(CSEC Youth Served in each quarter in 2023)

Child abuse can take on many forms, including the form of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). CSEC includes sexual activity involving a child, in exchange for anything, or the promise of anything of value. It includes everything from child trafficking to sharing images of child pornography, and the children exploited are often those with a history of running away, abuse, or neglect.

National data show that online exploitation of children doubled in recent years, as children continue to spend more and more time online—meaning even more children are at risk. In Massachusetts, the number of children served increased by 19% from the previous year.

(Ages of CSEC youth and young adults served in FY ‘23)

Last year, 1,037 unique victims of CSEC received 21,631 services.

  • 19% of the children helped were age 12 or under, and
  • 39.9% experienced multiple types of victimization

CSEC Case Managers provided 156 outreach activities and trained 4262 individuals – a 116% increase from the prior year— including MDT members and community members on CSEC and the services available to victims.

New Developments on CSEC at MACA

MACA’s CSEC Service Enhancement Project continues to expand services to victims of exploitation and trafficking with 12 CSEC Coordinators/Case Managers statewide. Focusing on sustainability and longevity, MACA constantly seeks new and diverse funding streams to support this important initiative. To that end, we applied for and secured our first Children’s Justice Act (CJA) grant supporting our reconfigured CSEC Statewide Program Manager position supporting the comprehensive and robust CSEC response initiatives at the CACs.

By having a staff member at MACA dedicated to the CSEC response, MACA can address the unique needs of the CAC staff and MDT partners who respond to CSEC, ensuring that the response is conducted through a trauma-informed, best practice-led, and survivor-focused lens. This support is offered through a three-pronged approach:

  • Training and technical assistance for the CSEC Coordinators and the CSEC MDT members.
  • Highlighting the successes and advocating for the needs of the CSEC response in various state and national forums.
  • Spearheading statewide initiatives and projects aimed at enhancing the CSEC response.

We were thrilled to bring Marcus Puleo, a highly-regarded, experienced professional, to this position.

CSEC Core Standards of Practice

The Massachusetts Multidisciplinary Team Core Standards in Response to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Sex Trafficking underwent the review process with the Office for Victims of Crime and received approval in September of 2023. At the end of 2023, MACA re-invigorated our relationship with Northeastern University Public Evaluation Lab to complete the evaluability assessment and goal-tracking tool as part of the implementation phase of the Core Standards.

The Core Standards implementation plan will occur in two phases: a pilot program, and then a statewide adoption. Throughout the implementation plan, the CSEC Statewide Program Manager will assist the CACs in the adoption of the standards in several capacities. This assistance will include regular individual meetings with each center, individualized plans for meeting the standards, creating a practical guide aimed at providing attainable measures to meet the standards, and providing training to CAC staff as well as MDT partners in the elements of the core standards.

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