It’s in Congress’ hands to stop child sex trafficking in the United States

LatinaLista — In 2009, the organization Shared Hope released the report The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: America’s Prostituted Children.

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A year after that report, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Congressman Chris Smith, co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking, crafted a bill, currently in committee, called H.R. 5575: Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010.

The report, which fueled the bill’s creation, found that “experts estimate that at least 100,000 American minors are victimized in America each year. The average age of initial exploitation is between 12-13, with some victims even younger.”

The saddest part of this scenario is that when the children, who are mostly girls, are rescued there are not enough beds/shelters across the country to accommodate them.

H.R. 5575 would provide $45,000,000 for shelter and specialized care for victims, assist law enforcement and prosecutors to identify and rescue victims and put pimps in prison, promote deterrence and prevention programs aimed at potential buyers, and require timely and accurate reporting of missing children.

The report’s researchers admit that the true scope of child sex trafficking is not exactly known because of the “lack of tracking, the common misidentification since many child victims lie about their age, the frequent plea agreements or declined prosecutions, and the stove-piped communications among and within law enforcement, juvenile justice, and service providers.”

What is known is that:

A homeless youth shelter and rehabilitation center in Las Vegas, identified 400 domestic sex trafficked minors through outreach in May 2007 alone;

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services reported in 2007 that an estimated 2,253 domestically sex trafficked youth are in New York City on an annual basis and 399 in the upstate counties;

And in Kansas City, Missouri assistance has been provided to a total of 799 clients exploited in the commercial sex industry since 2000 — of whom 140 were identified as either former or current victims of child sex trafficking.

The child sex trafficking business is thriving in the United States and it must be shut down — with strong legislation that doesn’t just penalize the traffickers but puts them away for a long time.

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