Safe Harbor

What is the Safe Harbor?

For the first time, Minnesota youth who engage in prostitution are viewed as victims and survivors, not criminals. They will be treated with dignity and respect, and directed to supportive services, shelter and housing that meet their needs and recognize their right to make their own choices.

Sexual exploitation of youth in Minnesota is commonly overlooked, misidentified as something else and undocumented.

What is Sexual Exploitation?

Minor Commercial Sexual Exploitation occurs when someone under the age of 24 engages in commercial sexual activity. A commercial sexual activity occurs when anything of value or a promise of anything of value (e.g., money, drugs, food, shelter, rent, or higher status in a gang or group) is given to a person by any means in exchange for any type of sexual activity. A third party may or may not be involved.

Safe Harbor Legislative Timeline

The Safe Harbor Law, passed in 2011, includes five key changes – three were effective immediately in 2011 while two additional changes will be effective in 2014. In 2011, Minnesota:

  • Added the definition of sexually exploited youth in Minnesota’s child protection codes;
  • Increased the penalties against commercial sex abusers or purchasers; and
  • Directed the Commissioner of Public Safety to work with stakeholders to create a victim-centered, statewide response for sexually exploited youth.

Effective August 1, 2014:

  • Excluded sexually exploited youth under 18 from the definition of delinquent child. This resolves the conflict that defines in law a sexually exploited youth as both a victim and delinquent. If youth engage in conduct that relates to being hired, offering to be hired or agreeing to be hired by another individual to engage in sexual conduct, they cannot be charged with a crime for this act.
  • State began implementing service model called No Wrong Door – making available resources and services for sexually exploited youth including regional navigators, housing and shelter, comprehensive services, and training and protocol development.

Effective July 1, 2016:

  • Safe Harbor services were made available to individuals 24 and younger, increasing the prior eligibility age for services from 18.

No Wrong Door

No Wrong Door is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and multi-state agency approach. It ensures communities across Minnesota have the knowledge, skills and resources to effectively identify sexually exploited and at-risk youth. Youth are provided with victim-centered trauma-informed services and safe housing. To learn more about the network being implemented in Minnesota to support victims contact White Earth’s Tribal Safe Harbor Navigator:  218.983.4656 

If you or someone you know is being sexual exploited or trafficked, please contact your Tribal Navigator 218.983.4656 or contact the Day One Hotline to learn more about services available in your community at 1-866-223-1111.