June 06, 2013

Wyden Leads Bi-Partisan Bill to Address Domestic Child Sex Trafficking in the Child Welfare System

Proposed legislation to protect vulnerable children praised by Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) was joined by five other senators today in introducing the bi-partisan Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act of 2013 to improve state and national data on the scope and prevalence of child sex trafficking and bring reforms to better identify and assist victims of child sex trafficking. 

“Domestic child sex trafficking is a scourge that must come to an end,” Wyden said. “This bill will push states to address the needs of children victimized by pimps and sex traffickers, and help people understand how big the problem is with accurate data.”

Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel, a leading advocate for stronger laws to prevent the sexual exploitation of children, praised Wyden’s efforts and the legislation.

"Senator Wyden has shown time and time again his commitment to helping victims of trafficking,” McKeel said. “This bill will help us articulate the deep impacts these horrific crimes have on our children and our communities.  We are very fortunate to have such a champion for this issue."

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Kirk (R-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Wyden on the legislation.

Sex trafficking remains a serious problem in the United States. According to the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI), there are currently an estimated 293,000 American children at risk of being commercially exploited and trafficked for sex.  Eighty three percent of sex trafficking victims found within the United States were U.S. citizens and 40 percent of sex trafficking cases involved the exploitation or sex trafficking of children.

Across the United States, trends suggest that most children victimized by sex trafficking in the U.S. are involved in the child welfare system. In Alameda County, California, 55 percent of sex trafficked children resided in foster youth group homes. In New York, at least 85 percent of trafficking victims had prior child welfare involvement. And in Florida, it’s estimated that more than 70 percent of victims are in foster care. According to a 2010 report by the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission, more than 1,000 Ohio children are sex trafficked every year.

The Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act of 2013 will streamline data collection and reporting on sex trafficking in child welfare. Specifically, the bill requires that state child welfare agencies report the number of children identified as victims of sex trafficking. This legislation will also require that state child welfare agencies immediately report the identity of any child missing or abducted from care. Additionally, this bill encourages states to improve coordination between child welfare, juvenile justice, and social service agencies to address the unique needs of victims of child sex trafficking, including placements in stable housing, treatments for sexual trauma, and other measures to help them reach a full recovery.

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