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Fighting Child Sex Trafficking in the U.S.
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By: Janice Tjeng Edited by: Sharon E. Chin
Sara Kruzan, now 37 years old, was a survivor of sex trafficking. She was trafficked in California at the age of 13 years until she was 16. At 16, she shot her pimp, George Gilbert Howard to death. Initially, after the incident, she was sentenced to imprisonment without parole. However, after receiving widespread media attention from various judicial reform groups, Kruzan was paroled on October 31, 2013 after serving 19 years.
Currently, there are 100,000 to 300,000 underage girls forced into sex trafficking in the U.S. 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the U.S. annually at the average age of 12-14 years old. Many of these are in the nation’s foster care systems, which lack the appropriate training and services required to prevent or assist sex trafficking victims.
Children in foster care are at higher risks of becoming trafficked. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice determined that 85% of child sex trafficking victims in New York State had some type of contact with the child welfare system. The FBI also estimates that 70% of child sex trafficking victims in Florida were involved with child welfare. Similarly, throughout the U.S., the majority of children who have been trafficked have had some exposure to the foster care system.
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As a result of her incarceration, Kruzan drafted a petition to pass the Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act (SCWRTA) of 2015. This bill has already passed in the House of Representatives but is awaiting approval by the Senate. Kruzan has already received support by 74,456 people and needs 544 more to reach the required 75,000 supporters. If this bill is passed, there will be more services and programs to help those in need as well as future measures to prevent more cases of trafficking from occurring.
This bill would ensure that each state develops a child protection plan that could identify and assess reports involving known or suspected child trafficking victims. Additionally, it would include training strategies for child protective service workers so that they are able to appropriately respond to reports of child trafficking. Lastly, the bill would have policies and procedures to connect child victims to specialized services.
“We must stand and unite together. We must be a part of the change, to save previous lives”, reported Kruzan. Please sign this petition to help pass the SCWRTA by clicking on the link here.
Janice Tjeng is a fourth year Biology major at the University of San Francisco. She is a Social Media Assistant atCancer InCytes Magazine. She looks forward to applying to medical school where she can learn the skills to provide healthcare for disadvantaged people.