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Combating Human Trafficking Is a Top Priority
Published in Hometown News

Washington, December 1, 2015 - My office is working with local groups to host an educational forum on January 11th to recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Day. This is an opportunity for residents in our community to gain a better understanding of human trafficking issues and how we can work together to put an end to these heinous crimes. Hundreds of thousands of young children are at risk for becoming victims of sex trafficking and forced labor every year in the United States. 

Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery that enables criminals who both traffic and exploit individuals, including many young girls, to make a huge profit.  

The victims’ stories are horrifying. Both here and abroad, many victims are enslaved in homes as domestic servants. Some are forced into debt bondage, where they work in appalling conditions for little or no pay and are charged exorbitant amounts for their basic needs. Many are trafficked in ways that are so inhumane, it is painful to even imagine, such as being forced into prostitution, pornography, or are beaten and assaulted by their captors.

Human traffickers prey mostly upon vulnerable children and young girls by promising them a chance to leave poor conditions in their homeland for a better life in the United States. Many don’t know our language or our laws, and once they arrive, they are trapped into lives of bondage. Other children and teens are runaways or are outright kidnapped and sold by traffickers.

According to the FBI, every year, more than 100,000 children fall victim to human trafficking right here in the United States. The Department of Justice says the average age for a child victim is between 13 and 14 years old, and those involved with selling children can make up to $200,000 a year per child. In total, the United Nations estimates that worldwide human trafficking generates a staggering $32 billion every year. This must be stopped. 

With my support, Congress has taken action to pass sweeping new laws to combat human trafficking. This important legislation refocuses law enforcement efforts to make human trafficking a top priority and enhances services for runaways and homeless children in order to better reach at-risk youth before they become victims. Congress also included provisions to better protect victims once they are rescued and criminalize the knowing advertisement of minors for commercial sex acts.

Another way the United States can crack down on human trafficking is to secure our borders and maintain operational control over them. I support taking action to secure our borders and have voted for legislation in the House to do just that. A secure border would make it harder for human traffickers to remain in operation, and would enable law enforcers to catch these criminals in the act and rescue more children from these terrible circumstances.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has resources available here http://www.missingkids.com/CSTT to help educate the public about human trafficking. I also encourage you to join us at Eastern Florida State College on January 11th to hear from experts on ways that you can get involved. Greg Pallone from Channel 13 News has agreed to moderate our main discussion panel. You can RSVP on my website www.posey.house.gov/rsvp. If we work together, we can stop these horrible crimes and bring justice to victims of human trafficking.

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