Juvenile Justice

Florida Considers Safe Houses for Child Trafficking Victims

Responding to growing concerns nationally about human trafficking, Florida social services officials have outlined plans to create a network of “safe houses” and treatment facilities for underage sex workers and other minors held against their will.

“We have to have a different treatment program for these kids,” Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins tells the Orlando Sentinel, which has published a package of stories and video about human trafficking.

At a human-trafficking summit at Florida State University on Monday, Wilkins called for an overhaul to the process handling victims of human trafficking, especially of children.

A new law in Florida puts children caught being trafficked under child protective services instead of routing them through the juvenile justice system.

The Sentinel cites a 2011 study by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, ranking Florida third behind California and Texas in the number of hotline reports of both children and adults held in forced labor or for the sex trade.

Florida isn’t alone in ramping up efforts to combat human trafficking. At the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, President Barack Obama discussed new training efforts and an executive order that prohibits sex trafficking by government contractors domestically and overseas.

ABA President Laurel Bellows has made the fight against human trafficking a core part of her presidency. She applauded Obama’s remarks.

Bellows, who has created a Task Force on Human Trafficking, said in a statement Tuesday that the initiatives outlined by Obama “will expand resources and legal assistance to victims of human trafficking and strengthen government contractor compliance with anti-human trafficking efforts.”

“The president’s aggressive action is a meaningful victory for human rights that should rally policymakers and the public to fight the practice of modern day slavery where hundreds of thousands of victims are forced into labor or exploited for sex in the United States alone,” Bellows said.

Also see:

Orlando Sentinel: “State officials put spotlight on human trafficking”

Orlando Sentinel: “A victim of human trafficking speaks out”

ABA Journal (President’s Message): “Breaking the Shackles: More Must Be Done to End Human Trafficking and Help Victims”

ABAJournal.com (with video): “Laurel Bellows Wants ABA to Shine Harsh Light on ‘Silent Crime’ of Human Trafficking”

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