Senator Kane Seeks Support For Proposal To Protect Sexually Exploited Children

February 25, 2010

State Senator Rob Kane (R-32) recently testified before the General Assembly’s Select Committee on Children in favor of his proposal to protect sexually exploited children by requiring the courts to assume that anyone under the age of 17 prosecuted for prostitution was coerced or enticed.

“The Safe Harbor For Exploited Children bill is intended to protect children and young teens alleged to have engaged in prostitution from further harm. Some experts estimate that about 100,000 children, many as young as 11, are exploited through prostitution every year in the United States. So while we may sit here today and think that such a crime cannot happen here, we are wrong. It can, and does, happen. And it happens far more often than we would like to admit to ourselves,” said Senator Kane, adding that his proposal is based on legislation adopted by the state of New York two years ago.

Those who have expressed support for Senator Kane’s proposed legislation, Senate Bill 153, include the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, End Child Prostitution And Trafficking USA, and the state Division of Public Defender Services.

Senator Kane told members of the Select Committee on Children that passing Senate Bill 153 would be an important step toward protecting sexually exploited children from further harm, but that the state needs to do more. He noted that there are differences between his original proposal and the legislation raised for consideration by the committee.

“This bill offers protection to a minor from criminal prosecution for actions that they had no choice but to commit. But my original proposal went well beyond the scope of this bill. It required the courts to direct the child into social service programs that could offer assistance in safe and secure housing, crisis intervention, counseling, and other community based services. It sought to ensure that there was a safety net in place so that these troubled children did not fall through the cracks of society. It is not enough to just let the minors go free, to return them to a situation that probably gave rise to their crimes and troubles in the first place. We need to do more. We need to give them a chance to rebuild their lives,” said Senator Kane.

Senate Bill 153 is pending further legislative action by the Select Committee on Children before advancing in the legislative process. Senator Kane urged those interested in the bill to contact him at his legislative office at 1-800-842-1421 or via e-mail to [email protected].