Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Strengthen Support for Victims of Youth Sex Trafficking

January 22, 2015
In The News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan group of House members today introduced legislation that would improve support for youth who are victims of sex trafficking. It is estimated that each year 300,000 children become victims of sex trafficking. Many of these children were once involved in a state child welfare system, yet their experience with sexual exploitation may go undetected. Led by Reps. Joe Heck (R-NV) and Karen Bass (D-CA), members are introducing bipartisan legislation that will enhance other support services for victims and improve the child welfare response to trafficking:

  • Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act of 2015.Introduced by Reps. Joe Heck (R-NV), along with House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), the legislation (H.R.468) will improve support provided specifically to runaway and homeless youth who are victims of sex trafficking.
  • Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2015. Introduced by Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), along with Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and other members, the legislation (H.R.469) will improve practices within state child welfare systems to identify and document sex trafficking victims.

The bipartisan leaders of this effort praised today’s action:

Chairman John Kline – “As a father and grandfather, there is no more terrifying thought than a loved one falling victim to human sex trafficking. Yet each year, hundreds of thousands of families are forced to endure the pain and suffering of this heinous crime. We have a moral obligation to do everything we can to stop it and support the victims. I am pleased to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in advancing that vital effort. ”

Ranking Member Bobby Scott – “The sad reality is that young people who have run away, who are homeless, or who have gone missing often fall prey to sexual exploitation and trafficking. Thankfully, we have federal services to help these youths, and this legislative package will strengthen those programs. These bills will ensure that child protective services, runaway and homeless youth programs, and missing and exploited children centers can better address the unique needs of young trafficking victims and help them recover from the ordeals they’ve faced.”

Congressman Joe Heck – “Anti-trafficking advocates in my district have told me we need to improve resources and support for youth trafficking victims. We can do that through the Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act of 2015. All of us have a moral obligation to support the victims of these heinous acts, especially our young people, who are among the most vulnerable and likely to become victims. Our bill helps ensure that those suffering from the trauma of these deplorable acts will have access to the care and support they need. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Committee on Education and the Workforce to once again pass this bill in the House.”

Congresswoman Karen Bass – “Children should never be treated as prostitutes; they are victims. And the men who abuse these children are not johns—they are child molesters. Helping sex trafficking victims is neither a Democratic nor Republican issue. Sex trafficking impacts every state and every city in our nation, and I am glad that members of Congress from across the country and political spectrum are working together to end it.”

The legislative proposals are part of a broader effort to support youth victims of sex trafficking. For example, legislation (H.R. 246) introduced by Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH)  would add the term “child sex trafficking” to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline reporting areas to reinforce that these children are victims, not criminals.

To learn more about the legislative proposals, click here.

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