The statistics are horrifying, the problem is growing, and our children may be at risk. Sex trafficking is a mounting crisis across the nation and in our local communities. Legislatures, educators, and non-profits are scrambling to raise awareness and turn the tide on this alarming trend.
On May 2, representative Jaime Herrera Beutler hosted a briefing in Vancouver bringing together law enforcement, social workers, and non-profits to discuss the need for action by Congress to strengthen the law regarding sex trafficking and crimes. Her website at herrerabeutler.house.gov noted that the bills regarding stiffer penalties and stronger law enforcement passed on May 20. The website informs, “The bills passed today will increase funding for services to victims and give prosecutors better tools to go after traffickers.”
Jim Grenfell is the Executive Director of AWARE, a non-profit organization based in Vancouver that is devoted to bringing awareness and empowerment to area youth. He attended the forum and has this to say about the Herrera Beutler briefing and the growing anti-trafficking movement: “There is greater public awareness and acceptance that there is a problem in our communities. School officials are starting to recognize the need for prevention, state laws are getting tougher for both the pimps and the Johns (buyers). Jaime Herrera and Linda Smith with Shared Hope International wanted to bring awareness to the growing issue of child sex trafficking in our community. They wanted the general public to know what is being done to fight trafficking from the following areas: federal and state laws/policies, and intervention, through direct services and prevention.”