Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Actby Representative Trent Franks
Posted on 2015-01-26
FRANKS of Arizona asked and was given permission to address the
House for 1 minute.)
Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Speaker, I am honored today to be able to
stand here in support of H.R. 469, the Strengthening Child Welfare
Response to Trafficking Act. This is one of many pieces of legislation
this week that we are going to be doing in the Congress, and I am so
grateful to all of the people who have been involved in this critically
important issue. I would especially mention the cochair of the
Congressional Foster Youth Caucus, Karen Bass, for introducing this
Mr. Speaker, Hubert Humphrey said a society is measured by how it treats those in the dawn of life, those in the shadows of life, and those in the twilight of life. This is such a critical issue to protect the 400,000 children in America who find themselves in foster care and vulnerable to being preyed upon by traffickers who know all too well how to exploit a child's hunger for love, acceptance, and a sense of belonging.
We must put the structures in place to treat child victims of trafficking like victims instead of treating them like criminals.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I remind us all that our first job here is to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Mr. Speaker, I am honored to able to stand here today in support of H.R. 469, the Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act. I commend my colleague Representative Karen Bass, the founder of the Co-chair of the Congressional Foster Youth Caucus, for introducing this groundbreaking legislation and for continuing to devote herself tirelessly to making a better future for these abused and neglected children.
Hubert Humphrey said a society is measured by how it treats those in the dawn of life, those in the shadows of life, and those in the twilight of life. Mr. Speaker, this is so applicable to our nation's foster youth. Right now over 400,000 children in America find themselves in foster care for no fault of their own. . . . And it is that trauma of abuse or neglect, that brought them into foster care in the first place, on top of being in unfamiliar circumstances, that makes them exponentially more vulnerable to be preyed upon by traffickers, who know all too well how to exploit a child's hunger for love, acceptance, and a sense of belonging.
For too long, and far too often, victims of trafficking have been allowed to fall through the cracks in the system. We have not put structures in place to treat child victims of trafficking like victims, and not treat them like criminals.
This legislation will begin to bridge the gaps where law enforcement and child protection workers need to be better equipped in order to best protect children known or suspected to be victims of sex trafficking. It also requires the submission of annual reports on the number of child victims of sex trafficking, and the reporting of that data to Congress so that we can better assess how to prevent child sex trafficking, and remove barriers that keep us from truly serving those that have become victims, and most of all, to protect the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children to keep them from ever having to endure the evil of sex trafficking.
I am grateful for my colleague Representative Bass's leadership on this issue, and to House Leadership for recognizing the priority that must be placed upon protecting some of our nation's most vulnerable children. And I pray we will continue to work and stand together for the right of every child to be safe, protected, cherished, and loved.