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Supporting At-Risk Children Act with provisions fighting child sex trafficking

Wednesday brought news of newly marked up Supporting At-Risk Children Act [see .pdf] that includes provisions from the Wyden-Portman Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act of 2013.

“Mark[ing]” up bills are changes, hopefully better changes, that are made to current laws and that is what the Senate did for the Supporting At-Risk Children Act by including what Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio were able to draw up in the Wyden-Portman Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act of 2013. [see .pdf]

The Wyden-Portman provisions require state child welfare workers to identify and document victims of sex trafficking within the child welfare system and requires those who work for the child welfare system to report information on missing and/or abducted children to the non-profit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

The reasoning behind it is the grim statistics that is the child welfare system and how most children victimized within the sex trafficking system had been involved in it in one way or another.

The press release made note of the “85 percent of trafficking victims” having prior child welfare involvement” in New York, Florida’s “estimated more than 70 percent victims” having been in foster care” and Ohio’s report of more than 1,000 children sex trafficked every year.

[Get free email subscription to Ohio Missing Persons Examiner to receive news and updates [click here].

Ohio’s Senator Portman said, “This bill will help our nation’s most vulnerable children, who far too often fall prey to sex trafficking. These children have been forgotten or disregarded by a system that was established to keep them safe, and this bill is a step in the right direction to ensuring that the goal of these institutions is met. By requiring child welfare agencies to report a child missing immediately, our bill will do a better job of keeping track of runaways and missing kids in order to prevent child victims of sex trafficking from falling through the cracks. Our bill also requires states take the necessary measures to protect and provide services to victims of child sex trafficking, ensuring that we treat exploited children as victims, not as criminals.”

The average age of runaways is 12 (typically female) and last year’s “safe harbor” law signed by Gov. John Kasich, although tougher on those who buy time with those trafficked and help the youth caught up in it, Linda Smith, head of Shared Hope International, believes it is still a “buyers market” in sex trafficking.

There is an averaged 40 percent of children sexually trafficked within the United States every year but with the mandated reporting of missing children to the NCIC and NCMEC, we should soon see this number dwindle.

See also: Several ways Lighthouse Youth Services in Cincinnati Ohio can help runaways

For more info: for those who live Ohio and want more information, please contact the Ohio Attorney Generals Office at: 800-282-0515 or local: 614-466-4986. They are located at 30 E Broad St #14, Columbus, OH 43215 (Transit: E Broad St & N High St). For directions, please see Google Maps

Ohio Missing Persons Community Support:

  • Ohio Attorney General: ‘In this traumatic time do not cut yourself off from others who can support you such as family, friends and clergy. Talk to your doctor if increased stress is affecting your health.”
  • Team Hope: The mission of Team HOPE is to assist families with missing, exploited and recovered children by offering peer support including empowerment, emotional support and coping skills from a trained volunteer who has had or still has a missing or exploited child.

Sources: http://www.finance.senate.gov/legislation/details/?id=a26af179-5056-a032-52a6-5825a153d839; http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/01/11/ohio-human-trafficking-efforts-improve.html; http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/01/11/ohio-human-trafficking-efforts-improve.html; http://oregonfaithreport.com/2013/12/wyden-no-child-sex-trafficking-in-child-welfare-bill/