Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence Act Letter
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Letter | Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence & Victim Support Act
I am writing today to ask you to support the Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence & Victim Support Act (S. 596) recently introduced by Senator Wyden with his co-sponsors Senators Blumenthal, Brown, Cantwell, Cornyn, Harkin, Klobuchar, Kyl, Merkley, and Schumer. This bill calls on the Attorney General to make changes to the National Crime Information Center database to guarantee that a child is automatically designated as an endangered juvenile if the child has been missing three times a year. In addition, it directs funds awarded under the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program should be used to provide education, training, deterrence and prevention programs relating to sex trafficking of minors. Finally S. 596 would call on states to treat minor victims of trafficking as crime victims rather than as criminal defendants.
I know you will agree that in the past sex trafficking of minors has been viewed as a problem in foreign countries but not in the United States. This is unfortunately no longer the case with thousands of sex trafficking cases involving minors being reported each year in the U.S. In fact, in 2010, the US State Department acknowledged this sad fact by taking the unprecedented step of including the United States in its annual “Trafficking in Persons” report.
A study conducted at the University of California at Berkeley estimated that between 240,000 and 325,000 American children are at risk of sexual exploitation each year. Among these, runaways are at the greatest risk. For this reason, it is vital that we designate a child who has gone missing multiple times in a year as an endangered juvenile.
Child abuse, which includes the sex trafficking of minors, is a serious issue and passing this bill is one easy step we can take to help protect our nation’s children. As a supporter of Childhelp, an organization dedicated to the treatment and prevention of child abuse, and a constituent of yours, I urge you to suppose this important piece of legislation.