Council Introduces Child Sex Trafficking Legislation Council Introduces Child Sex Trafficking Legislation

 

On March 4, 2014, Councilmember Mary Cheh, along with Councilmembers Grosso, McDuffie, and Wells, introduced the “Sex Trafficking of Minors Prevention Amendment Act of 2014.”  The idea for the bill started when member organization, Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, informed DCAYA of the poor systematic response they experienced when trying to find a trafficked youth formerly involved in their program. DCAYA convened councilmembers and coalition allies: Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, Fair Girls, and Sasha Bruce, to gather youth service provider perspectives in drafting the legislation. As the bill is revised and moves through the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, DCAYA will continue bringing youth service providers and affected youth to the table to provide input in forming legislation that focuses on services rather than the re-victimization of young people.

If your organization, program staff, or program participants have been affected by sex trafficking and would like to be involved in the legislation, please contact Katie Dunn at katie@dc-aya.org

Read Councilmember Cheh’s statement for the introduction of “The Sex Trafficking of Minors Prevention Amendment Act of 2014” to DC Counci below. (PDF)

 

The Sex Trafficking of Minors Prevention Amendment Act of 2014

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Today, along with Councilmembers Grosso, McDuffie, and Wells, I am introducing the Sex Trafficking of Minors Prevention Amendment Act of 2014.  Sex trafficking of minors in the United States is a problem that affects the lives of millions of children. According to a 2011 FBI report on trafficking, nearly 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk of being exploited and trafficked for sex. Most of these are young girls around the ages of 12 to 14.

As an opinion piece appearing two weeks ago in the Washington Post by the Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls noted, too often these children are viewed as perpetrators of crime or juvenile delinquents instead of what they truly are: victims of abuse and violence who are sexually exploited for commercial gain. As the opinion piece so eloquently stated: there is no such thing as a child prostitute.

The legislation I am introducing today builds on the great foundation created by the Prohibition Against Human Trafficking Amendment Act of 2010, by incorporating the experience of service providers, advocates, and other states to improve our response to minors who are trafficked for sexual exploitation. This bill would provide immunity for a prostituted minor and instead, would require the Metropolitan Police Department to refer the minor to appropriate services consistent with their status as a victim of human trafficking. This approach is similar to what states like Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, and others have done. 

Additionally, because many trafficking victims start out as runaways and end up resorting to survival sex as homeless youth, this bill would provide reporting procedures for District agencies with custodial care of children, and would expand the class of individuals who can file missing child reports to include individuals or entities who are mandatory reporters of child abuse.

This bill would also require human trafficking training for law enforcement and social workers employed by the Child and Family Services Agency, so they can learn best practices and skills for identifying and assessing these victims.  

Finally, this bill provides awareness to the public and those who may be trafficked, by requiring bars, hotels, transportation hubs, and other entities to post the toll-free national human trafficking hotline, an approach that 22 other states have taken.

Minors who are sexually exploited for commercial purposes should be provided a comprehensive victim-centered response that is tailored to eliminating any further harm to them.  This bill aims to achieve that goal.

I welcome co-sponsors.