THE US PILOT OUT OF THE SHADOWS INDEX
About the U.S. Pilot OOSI
The United States does not have a holistic, child-centered system in
place to prevent and respond to CSEA. The World Childhood Foundation
USA’s (Childhood USA) United States Pilot Out of the Shadows Index (U.S.
Pilot OOSI), developed by Economist Impact, is a first attempt to
develop this holistic, coordinated approach. The U.S. Pilot OOSI is
designed to answer the questions “what does a holistic approach to
protect children from CSEA and empower children to protect themselves
look like?” and “are states developing systems, policies and programs
that are aligned with this holistic approach?”.
Our framework defines a holistic approach as a prevention and response system sensitive to the broader socio-ecological environment that gives priority to the interests and needs of the child. The U.S. Pilot OOSI builds on the Global Out of the Shadows Index and helps uncover how 12 states are tackling CSEA both in person and online. Using 182 individual metrics aggregated into 22 indicators and four pillars, the U.S. Pilot OOSI assesses states’ legal frameworks; policies and programs to protect and educate children and key stakeholders; provision of support services for victims and offenders; and the justice process for victims.
The U.S. Pilot OOSI is designed to help uncover how 12 states are tackling CSEA both in person and online. Using 182 individual metrics aggregated into 22 indicators and four pillars, the U.S. Pilot OOSI assesses states’ legal frameworks; policies and programs to protect and educate children and key stakeholders; provision of support services for victims and offenders; and the justice process for victims.
The U.S. Pilot OOSI includes data and information across 22 indicators and 182 sub-indicators, grouped into four categories across two pillars that measure the extent to which states are implementing measures to prevent and respond to CSEA:
- Legal framework & state capacity: Assesses the degree to which a state provides legal or regulatory protections for children from sexual exploitation and abuse.
- Policies & programs: Assesses government-driven initiatives and civil society programs to address the economic, social and environmental risk factors that could increase children’s susceptibility to sexual exploitation and abuse.
- Provision of support services: Takes into account both government-led and civil society support systems outside of the justice system for victims of CSEA, specifically around health, medical support services, mental health and rehabilitation and how to increase child-centered decision-making through the recovery process.
- Justice process: Measures the capacity of the justice system from the initial moment of response through to resolution of the case, assessing its capacity, responsiveness, and effectiveness to assess to what extent it keeps the best interests of the child at its core.
1. Participating States
Using 182 metrics aggregated into 22 indicators and 4 pillars, the report analyzed 12 US states and found substantial gaps in each of the states to protect children from CSEA. The gaps differ from state to state, but there is a common thread: the prevention and response systems do not consistently place the interests and needs of the child at its core.
2. Sex Education
Although sex education and HIV/ sexually-transmitted infection (STI) instruction is mandated in most states, there are few requirements that such instruction be evidence based or medically accurate. Only Illinois requires sex education to be evidence based and just three pilot states require sex education to be medically accurate. Access to comprehensive sex education — which encompasses both healthy sexuality and relationships and social-emotional learning — is a critical component of CSEA prevention.
3. The Cost of Medical Support
No pilot state provides comprehensive medical support free of charge to CSEA victims outside of reimbursement through victim compensation programs. This includes provision of pregnancy testing, emergency contraception, STI testing, medications, treatment for injuries sustained during the assault, and counseling. Just three pilot states prohibit hospitals and medical professionals from billing CSEA victims for emergency contraception and two for treatment of injuries sustained during the assault.