Connecticut lawmakers are considering a number of bills that impact child trafficking. Among them is a bill would be a powerful tool that will help bring traffickers to justice. And two others that could actually harm children who have been affected by trafficking. Connecticut Residents, you can help: Please call your legislators and let them know you stand with children who have been trafficked.
One Step Forward…
👍We support SB 311 because we believe it will help bring traffickers to justice.
Changing three words in existing Connecticut law would help bring traffickers to justice. Senate Bill 311 would broaden the definition of trafficking from an act that takes place “for a fee,” which implies that money must change hands, to an act that takes place “in exchange for anything of value,” including things like a place to stay or food. The revised definition better matches the realities for some of the youth we know in Connecticut, giving law enforcement the language they need to prosecute traffickers.
We support SB 311 because we believe it will help bring traffickers to justice.
… 2 Steps Back?
👎We oppose Senate Bill 187 because we believe that child victims of trafficking should be given the care they need to recover, and not be sent to jail.
This bill would allow law enforcement to send youth to jail if they believe the youth might “commit or attempt to commit other offenses injurious to the child.” As reflected in testimony from the Chief State’s Attorney, this language is specifically targeted at youth who are victims of human trafficking. Currently, under Connecticut law, only children who present a risk to public safety can be jailed.
We’re concerned about this bill for a few reasons.
- Victims of child sex trafficking are victims of a crime. They’ve experienced significant trauma and have complex needs. Jailing these young victims will only cause them additional harm and trauma — they need mental health and social services to support them, not incarceration.
- Incarcerating children to keep them from “committing offenses ” sends a message to them, and to peers in their community, that the victim is to blame. It also could keep them from going to the authorities because it confirms the message victims get from traffickers that if they go to police they will go to jail.
- Many of the youth we’ve worked with have suffered unspeakable violence as a result of their victimization. Placing them in locked facilities in order to “protect them” can trigger the trauma they have experienced. Jails are not equipped to provide victims with the trauma-informed support that they need.
We oppose Senate Bill 187 because we believe that child victims of trafficking should be given the care they need to recover, and not be sent to jail.
👎We oppose House Bill 5170 because protecting the privacy of students is essential to giving the youth we work with an opportunity for success in school.
This bill would allow a student’s smartphone and/or tablet to be legally searched by school administrators if they believe the youth has violated a school policy or poses an imminent risk. We believe that this proposed law, currently being considered by the State Legislature’s Education Committee, could have multiple unintended consequences.
One of our main goals working with youth in our long-term care is to help them succeed in school. If enacted, this law could be a barrier to the youth we work with from even attending school. Youth maintain a lot personal information on their mobile devices – including personal photos, trusted private communications, and private health information. Knowing that this kind material could be revealed to a principal is enough to keep many of the youth we work with from feeling safe in school. For youth whose phones are searched, administrative knowledge of this information could impact youths’ mental health and school performance. Additionally, if a youth is in imminent risk, we believe that the best course of action is to contact law enforcement immediately.
Schools are reasonably concerned about protecting the safety of their students, and ensuring that educational policies are being followed. These concerns can be addressed without eroding students’ right to privacy.
We oppose House Bill 5170 because protecting the privacy of students is essential to giving the youth we work with an opportunity for success in school.