Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have introduced legislation to crack down on the sexual exploitation of children in the United States.
The Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act of 2013 improves the data systems that track missing children as well as provides the needed designation to ensure victims receive proper care and help, according Paulsen, whose Third District includes the city of Coon Rapids.
The U.S. Department of Justice reports that between 2008-2010, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims found within the United States were U.S. citizens and 40 percent of sex trafficking cases involved the sexual exploitation of children.
The legislation requires that child welfare agencies immediately notify the proper authorities when children go missing either from their homes or other childcare institutions such as foster homes or shelters, Paulsen said.
This information will go into a comprehensive database to assist in tracking and locating these children, he said.
The bill will also classify these children as victims, not just runaways, which allows them to receive the proper care and assistance, and helps prevent re-entry into the sex trade, rather than being placed in jail, Paulsen said.
“It’s easy to think that sex trafficking only happens far away or in other countries, but the truth is that exploitation of American children occurs every day across this country,” he said.
“Too often, missing children go unnoticed and are preyed upon by a trafficker who lures them in with a safe place to sleep and a hot meal. This legislation takes necessary steps to track and find these victims and ensures they receive the care they need to lessen, and hopefully end, this disgusting practice.”
According to Paulsen, the Twin Cities are among the top 13 places for child prostitution, as identified by the FBI.