Minnesota Congressman Instrumental to Sex Trafficking Prevention Law

Minnesota Congressman, Erik Paulsen has been instrumental to a law that will prevent sex trafficking. A press release issued by the office of Paulsen stated that the bill, Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980) was signed into law by President Barak Obama on September 29, 2014. The legislation was authored in part by Paulsen, representative for Minnesota’s 3rd District and co-sponsored by Representative John Kline of Minnesota’s 2nd District.

A report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services stated that “one in three children are lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of becoming homeless.” By improving reporting standards, law enforcement will be better able to recognize potential victims before they are exploited by pimps and traffickers.   Therefore, this legislation will improve law enforcement data and reporting on at-risk youth. Through this data, police departments would be able to help and protect these children. The law also revised foster-child legislation, and the reporting habits of state agencies.

According to Paulsen, “Part of what makes the crime of sex trafficking so reprehensible is how it steals the innocence from so many youth.” He added that, “The fact that many of these children are society’s most vulnerable makes the prevalence of human trafficking even more disturbing. This law puts into action concrete steps that foster care, child welfare agencies, and law enforcement can take to protect children that are most at-risk from exploitation.”

The legislation required state agencies to report information on missing children to law enforcement authorities.  Such information, which must be entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) database, National Crime Information Center (NCIC), and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, also required information on sex trafficking to be added to the adoption and foster care reporting system. Fourteen year old foster children and older will be able to participate in their own case planning, as well as access to planning for adulthood.

Changes to law enforcement were written into law as well, which requires law enforcement agencies to make plans to find children who have ran away from their foster home. By having more information at their disposal, law enforcement agencies would be better suited to protect exploited children.

For more information, visit https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4980.

Photo credits: uselections.org

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