Murkowski, Smith Introduce Bill to Protect Children from Human Trafficking

July 20, 2021

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Tina Smith reintroduced legislation to help students, parents, teachers, and school personnel to understand, recognize, prevent, and respond to signs of human trafficking—the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act of 2021. The legislation would provide grants to non-profit organizations and schools to develop and implement age-appropriate, culturally competent, and gender-responsive curriculum, all while prioritizing geographic areas with the highest prevalence of human trafficking.

Click here for the legislative text.

Click here for a one-pager on the bill.

“Human trafficking is one of the most sickening and horrifying crimes out there. It’s shocking, but many locations that most would assume to be safe — such as playgrounds, local malls, and group homes — have become stalking grounds for predators to prey on youth.  We must ensure that school faculty members, teachers, parents, youth development personal, and children are equipped not only to prevent human trafficking, but also to see the warning signs and to be ready to respond,” said Senator Murkowski. “There is substantial need in Alaska and throughout the country for tools and resources to be put in place to fight back against these heinous acts.”

“Human trafficking is a serious issue in Minnesota—particularly for Native communities—that demands urgent action,” said Senator Smith. “Since children spend a significant portion of their time at school, it just makes sense to teach students, teachers and other school personnel how to recognize and respond to signs of human trafficking and child exploitation. My hope is that this legislation will improve community awareness about these egregious crimes and keep children safe.”

“ASHTA (Alaska Stop Human Trafficking Alliance) fully endorses Senator Murkowski’s and Senator Smith’s efforts with the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act of 2021.  Preventive education is key in combatting human trafficking nationwide.  Teaching our youth about the dangers of sex trafficking and how to recognize when they are being groomed, they can save themselves, and can save others. As leaders in the frontline fight against sex trafficking here in Alaska, from our cities to our villages, we strongly believe that education is key in winning this war and keeping our youth safe,” said Staci Yates, ASHTA Coordinator and Director of Human Trafficking Recovery Services at My House.

“At Catholic Social Services (CSS), we have borne witness to the impact of trauma on young children, adults, and families. Human trafficking and exploitation are horrendous acts that cause extreme trauma. The proposed expanded training eligibility to include afterschool and youth development personal is necessary to prevent this crisis. All professionals interacting with children should be equipped to step in and prevent a child from hurt… This legislation will help prevent children and youth from experiencing extreme trauma, one that will have far reaching effects – a trauma that no child or person should ever have to experience,” said Lisa Aquino, CEO, Catholic Social Services of Alaska.

Read the full press release on Lisa Murkowski’s site

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