New Bill Introduced to Combat Child Sex-Trafficking within U.S.

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2010 ( – New legislation designed to aggressively address the sexual exploitation of children by sex-traffickers was introduced into the House of Representatives this week by U.S. Representatives Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) and Chris Smith (NJ-04). The bill would add $45 million to law enforcement and victim-assistance efforts.

Maloney and Smith are co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking. They said the proposed law (H.R. 5575) is a legislative response to the findings of a 2009 study called the “National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, America’s Prostituted Children.” The report details the facts of child sex-trafficking within the U.S., and says that experts estimate at least 100,000 American minors become the victims of sex-traffickers in the U.S. each year. On average, these children are first sexually exploited between 12-13 years of age; often even younger than that.

“We are stepping up the fight against this modern day slavery and the abuse of children within the United States,” said Smith, who has authored three anti-human-trafficking laws. “Human trafficking is a worldwide problem and the United States is no exception. Traffickers claim new victims in our country every day, destroying childhoods and damaging lives.”

Smith said the bill puts a special emphasis on getting aid to American victims of child traffickers, “many of whom are runaways and have been forcibly addicted to drugs by traffickers.”

The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010 (H.R. 5575) would use the additional $45 million in funding to provide shelter and specialized care for victims, and would require timely and accurate reporting of missing children. Law enforcement and prosecutors would also be provided with more resources to identify and rescue victims and send their pimps to prison, as well as to promote deterrence and prevention programs aimed at those who would potentially buy children for sex.

“Too many think that sex trafficking is only a problem in foreign countries. But here in the U.S., an estimated 100,000 underage girls - most of them American citizens - are exploited through commercial sex each year,” Rep. Maloney said. “Yet, nationwide there are only 50 beds to address the needs of those 100,000 victims. This is simply unacceptable. We have a moral obligation to help; these are America’s daughters, granddaughters, sisters, and nieces.”

The domestic child-trafficking bill follows upon another bill introduced by Rep. Smith in April designed to help law enforcement authorities across the globe coordinate better in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children, especially from international “sex tourists.”

In April, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs approved legislation that would establish an international database of registered sex offenders and traffickers – an international version of the U.S. “Megan’s Law.” If approved, the bill would establish mandatory reporting requirements for convicted sex traffickers and registered sex offenders against children who intend to travel overseas.

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