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Senate Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Child Trafficking

On July 8, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families held a hearing, “Falling Through the Cracks: The Challenges of Prevention and Identification in Child Trafficking and Private Re-homing.” The hearing focused on the trafficking and private re-homing of children who are adopted from foreign countries. The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources held a hearing that addressed similar issues in October 2013 (see The Source, 10/25/13).

In her opening remarks, Chair Kay Hagan (D-NC) said, “Too many child victims today are going unidentified, misidentified, or underreported, and as we will see, one of the reasons for this is the lack of education and training for our educators…our health care providers…[and] our social workers. However, with appropriate guidance, these dedicated professionals can play a critical role, both by helping to prevent these practices and by offering potentially lifesaving assistance to those children who need it the most…These young victims are often hidden in plain sight, and in many cases they’re actually still attending school, which makes it particularly important that our educators can recognize the signs of a trafficking victim and then respond accordingly.”

Sen. Hagan added, “[W]e need leadership from the federal government to help raise this awareness about the issue and to lead the way in developing the practices and procedures that will increase the prevention efforts and help improve the identification of our trafficked youth. Last December, I introduced bipartisan legislation to address this growing problem of child trafficking with Sen. [Marco] Rubio [(R-FL)]. That bill is called the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act [S. 1823]. This legislation would fill some of the gaps in the current system by providing professionals with the tools that they need to identify, document, educate, and counsel child victims of sex and labor trafficking. It also would amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act [P.L. 93-247] to ensure child welfare agencies properly identify, serve, and report trafficked children, and allow law enforcement to be better able to track them.”

The following witnesses testified:

  • JooYeun Chang, associate commissioner, Children’s Bureau, Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Abigail English, director, Center for Adolescent Health and the Law;
  • Jeneé Littrell, assistant principal, Grossmont Union High School District; and
  • Megan Twohey, investigative reporter, Thomson Reuters.
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