The Sacramento Bee details the problems with this news story including the fact that it's been cut and pasted onto other sites and Facebook fans are spreading the misrepresentations as fast as they have other fake news reports.
It seems to me the Bee article validates my take on three key factors.
- Decriminalizing an action is quite different from legalizing it. This bill is designed so that kids under 18 are no longer criminalized for being victims. It recognizes that they have been exploited and brainwashed. Rather than being put in jail, they need a caring environment where they can learn how to live healthy productive lives. Most victims of prostitution who don't get out of the "game," die way too young. They need job and life skills. They need to know their lives have meaning, purpose, and value instead of having a criminal charge on their records.
- The prosecution of the real criminals now becomes the focus because statutory rape (sex with a child under the age of 18) is already illegal. So is the sexual exploitation of minors. If a girl or boy is in their home and a parent or step-parent sexually molests them, the child is considered a victim, removed from that environment, and the perpetrator is prosecuted. For many years if a child was exploited by a pimp, the child was prosecuted and prosecution of pimps was rare. The good news is that law enforcement has been going after the traffickers and now helps children get services.
- Children can still be picked up by law enforcement for temporary placement if they perceive that child is in harm's way. And as law enforcement increasingly recognizes the environment for trafficking, they know how to rescue those victims. I've been so encouraged to meet law enforcement personnel committed to caring for these kids and protecingt them from pimps and johns.
People of all political persuasions need to get involved because there simply aren't enough services (see the last paragraph) available for the thousands of victims who need them. That's why Every One Free is developing a resource center to help girls on one of the busiest tracks in Pomona. An easy way to make a difference to trafficking victims is to donate toward this center. (If you do that, please mark your gift as being for the Justice Center.) Or find out what's happening in your neighborhood and get involved. First and foremost learn what's going on and seek out the truth. That's disturbing enough without sensationalizing legislation.
Did I miss anything? Are there legitimate concerns that need to be discussed? Please read California SB 1322 for yourself and add to the discussion below by clicking on the "No Comments" button and posting a comment.