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

A bipartisan group of House members today introduced legislation that would strengthen support for youth who are victims of sex trafficking. The proposed bills would improve identification and assessment of child sex trafficking victims and enhance existing support for runaway and homeless youth.

“Every year thousands of children are victims of sex trafficking,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “We have to do more to address this national crisis. There is no reason why we shouldn’t fix outdated policies that make it harder to identify and serve these vulnerable youth. The bipartisan legislative proposals introduced today will help prevent victims from falling through the cracks and strengthen the support they need. I want to thank my colleagues for their leadership on this critical issue. More must be done and today’s effort is a step in the right direction.”

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. Members are introducing bipartisan legislation that will enhance support services for victims and improve the child welfare response to trafficking:
  • Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking. Introduced by Reps. Joe Heck (R-NV), John Kline (R-MN), and Bobby Scott (D-VA), the legislation (H.R. 5076) 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 2014. Introduced by Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), John Kline (R-MN), Tom Marino (R-PA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the legislation (H.R. 5081) 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:

Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) – “We have a moral obligation to care for victims of sex trafficking, especially vulnerable children. By passing a simple fix to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act we can ensure that those suffering from the trauma of these deplorable acts will have access to the care and support they need.”

Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) – “We absolutely must confront the reality that girls in our foster care system are being recruited and pipelined into sex trafficking. And, unfortunately, far too often, those responsible for protecting our children fail to properly identify and assist trafficked and exploited children,” said Rep. Bass. “This bi-partisan and commonsense legislation will make sure that state child welfare agencies have the policies and training to combat sex trafficking so that our foster care system is protecting children.”

Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) – "In order to ensure that victims of trafficking receive the support they need, we must provide additional support to states, organizations and other entities to train the staff working with these victims. This training allows service providers to successfully address and respond to the behavioral and emotional effects of abuse and assault. Our bill ensures that staff training will also include ways to recognize and respond to the unique needs and circumstances of trafficking victims. It is a simple change, but an important one necessary to improve the services available. It is my hope that we can continue this spirit of bipartisanship and work together to improve and strengthen programs that support our nation's children."

To learn more about the legislative proposals, click here.


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