HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Over 100,000 children are exploited through prostitution in the United States each year.
State Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-Bucks/Montgomery) says the state needs to do a better job of protecting juvenile human trafficking victims from prosecution.
Children picked up for sex crimes can be charged with crimes like prostitution, drug possession and loitering.
Greenleaf’s Senate Bill 851 would keep juveniles from being charged. His bill would require law enforcement to presume that juveniles accused of sex crimes are trafficking victims.
“It protects instead of prosecutes children, so it makes sure that they don’t get fed into the system that re-victimizes them,” said Susan Mathias, CEO of Transitions of Pennsylvania, an agency that helps trafficking victims.
The bill also would make sure there is more safe, long-term housing, education, life-skills training, and counseling for child victims.