By Robert Treynor
January 29, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) introduced bipartisan legislation to better protect missing and exploited children in the United States. The Bringing Missing Children Home Act improves law enforcement reporting and response procedures in cases of missing children by refining and streamlining how cases of missing children are handled.
In July 2013 the FBI conducted a nationwide sting focusing on instances of child sex trafficking and recovered 105 sexually exploited children; more than 70 percent had prior involvement with the child welfare system or foster care.
Domestic child sex trafficking remains a serious problem in the United States. There are an estimated 293,000 American youths at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. Research suggests that the majority of trafficked youth have been in and out of the child welfare system and run from care immediately prior to being trafficked or sexually exploited. The strong correlation between children who are missing or abducted and children who are sex trafficked or commercially sexually exploited makes it imperative that law enforcement better coordinate directly with the state and local child welfare systems to consistently report missing children and improve the quality of information available to law enforcement in the investigation so that the child can be found.
“Our bill will ensure that law enforcement and state and local child welfare systems, the organizations responsible for finding missing children, are able to work together efficiently and effectively on accomplishing their joint mission,” said Portman. “This bill will help our nation’s most vulnerable children, who far too often fall prey to sex trafficking. These children have been forgotten or disregarded by a system that was established to keep them safe, and our bill will ensure that we treat children who are exploited as victims, not as criminals.”
“The Bringing Missing Children Home Act will help get information about missing kids and potential human trafficking victims to law enforcement more quickly,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Every minute counts in these cases.”