The Jacksonville-based Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center and state and national child advocates have denounced proposed Florida state legislation that would authorize child sex-trafficking victims to be “locked up” in treatment centers for up to 10 months. The proposed amendment to the Safe Harbor Act would, among other things, create a “secure safe house” pilot program for sexually exploited children “with the greatest needs,” according to a House staff analysis of the bill. The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of girls by improving the ways in which girls are treated.
But such involuntary detention would only delay children’s recoveries by isolating them, making them feel victimized again and like criminals, and hampering counselors’ ability to win their trust, said Lawanda Ravoira, the policy center’s president and CEO. “Legislators are well-intended but uninformed in terms of the consequences,” she said. “They are making policy decisions that won’t work.”
Supporters of the proposed legislation say that the secure safe house pilot program “is intended for those sexually exploited children with the greatest needs and for whom no less restrictive placement has been or will be effective in addressing the effects of severe abuse, violence, trauma or exploiter control endured by the child.” Such children are viewed as more likely to run away and to try to recruit others into child sex trafficking.
“Sets the pimps and johns free, locks the girl up,” Ravoira said. “This is just a gross injustice, to lock up the victim.”
Learn more at Beth Reese Cravey’s The Florida Times-Union article: ‘Secure safe house’ for child sex trafficking victims a ‘gross injustice’.