As a constituent concerned about the sex trafficking of our Nation’s youth, I urge your support of Senate Bill 354 so that child victims are not blamed for their own victimization and the criminal perpetrators who buy commercial sex with children are held accountable.
On November 11, 2015, Shared Hope International released the annual report cards for every state, and Indiana’s grade remains a “C.” I would like to see Indiana raise its grade. Senate bill 354 would improve Indiana’s ability to combat juvenile sex trafficking in two key ways:
- Protect commercially sexually exploited children from prosecution for prostitution offenses – from being blamed for their own victimization. Arresting, charging and placing children on trial for their own victimization is counterproductive and can further traumatize the child or tighten trauma bonds with potential traffickers. Additionally, allowing children to be prosecuted for prostitution enables unfair stigmas to be placed on exploited children. This bill would progressively amend the criminal prostitution statute to remove any criminal responsibility from child victims of commercial sexual exploitation, which is a necessary element to a comprehensive, just response to youth who have been commercially sexually exploited.
- Establishes a CSEC offense and a higher penalty for buying of sex with a child. Enacting CSEC offenses that apply to buyers with penalties that recognize the seriousness of the offenses are critical in deterring the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Buyers who prey on children, soliciting and purchasing sex acts with minors, exploit youths’ vulnerabilities and can cause long-lasting harm. The commodification or exchange of money does not sanitize the underlying sexual abuse of that child. State laws must reflect that children are not to be sold or bought for sex and must both acknowledge and deter the indispensable role that buyers play in these grave crimes.
Senate Bill 354 would significantly improve Indiana’s ability to prevent and respond to the sex trafficking of our children.
Can I count on you to support SB 354?