Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act of 2015by Representative John Kline
Posted on 2015-01-26
KLINE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding the time
and for his consistent, continuous leadership on this issue.
Mr. Speaker, as a father and grandfather, I find it difficult to imagine anything more terrifying than a loved one falling victim to youth sex trafficking. Yet each year, hundreds of thousands of children and families are forced to live with the pain and suffering that stems from this deplorable crime.
Mr. Speaker, let me be clear. This crime is taking place right here in our own country. It is impacting our communities, our families, and our children. We face a national crisis, and it demands a national response.
Fortunately, there are heroic efforts underway to fight this heinous crime, care for the victims, and support their families.
The dedicated staff at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC, are on the front lines every day identifying victims, assisting law enforcement in the recovery of missing children, and returning children to their loved ones.
NCMEC is also partnering with schools and employers to enhance support for victims and their families. Parents with children in school are probably familiar with Lifetouch photography. Through its SmileSafe Kids initiative, Lifetouch is making it easier for parents and NCMEC to alert law enforcement of a missing child in order to accelerate the search and rescue.
NCMEC and others are always finding new ways to help, and so should we, and that is why we are here today. We have learned too often victims fall through the cracks of States' child welfare systems. Those who may be runaway or homeless youth do not have access to the full range of services they need.
And believe it or not, due to a flaw in the law, there are times when children are treated as criminals--as criminals, Mr. Speaker--rather than the victims of a violent crime.
Congress has an opportunity to address these challenges and strengthen our support for victims of youth sex trafficking. I want to thank my Republican and Democratic colleagues for working with us on this important effort, including Mr. Walberg, as I mentioned earlier; the ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, Mr. Scott; and Representatives Joe Heck, Karen Bass, and Joyce Beatty.
I am pleased that in the early days of the 114th Congress, we are taking action to address youth sex trafficking. It reflects both the seriousness of this crime and our commitment to the victims and their families.
I urge my colleagues to support these important legislative proposals.