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Oct. 17, 2014

SB 1165 part of “three-prong package” of bills to fight trafficking

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California State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, left, stands with Cody Foute, youth partner, Riverside County Department of Social Services and survivor advocate, Shereen Walter, community concerns advocate, Cal State PTA, and Daphne Phung, executive director, California Against Slavery at a press conference at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, a California Distinguished School, on Thursday, Oct. 16, to honor the passage of Senate Bill 1165. The legislation will bring vital sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention education to nearly 3 million middle- and high-school students.

 

LOS ANGELES – Supporters of a landmark education bill gathered at a middle school Thursday to celebrate the legislation that will bring sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention education to nearly 3 million middle- and high-school students in California.

Senate Bill 1165, authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, will help expedite the adoption of sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention education in schools across California and standardize the curriculum. It is part of a “three-prong” package of bill that address intervention, detention and prevention.

SB 955 will allow law enforcement officials to use court-authorized wiretaps when investigating or prosecuting the trafficking of minors. The third bill, SB 1388, which Senator Mitchell jointly authored with Senators Ted Lieu, Jerry Hill and principal co-author Bob Huff, increases criminal penalties for those convicted of trafficking minors for sex.

“Today, we’re here to celebrate the passage of SB 1165, and to recognize that it’s the first step in our journey to empowering and educating young people about their safety,” said Mitchell. “We want them to be confident enough to walk away when they’re being propositioned (by a trafficker).”

The bill’s passage comes two years after California Against Slavery helped place Prop 35, the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act, the ballot. It passed with 81.3 percent of the vote, the highest ever approved initiative in California history. SB 1165’s passage also comes on the heels of President Obama’s launch of the “It’s On Us” campaign and a national dialog about ending sexual assault on college campuses.

Policy makers and anti-trafficking advocates agree more must be done sooner; one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually assaulted before age 18, while the average age of entry into sex trafficking is from 12 to 14 years old. “Education has to happen way before college,” said Daphne Phung, executive director of California Against Slavery. “And SB1165 will help make it happen in California. What a huge advance for the movement against sexual abuse and human trafficking!”

The prevention education will focus on helping students recognize sexual abuse, assault, and sex trafficking, learn about risk factors and prevention strategies, how to report suspected incidents and identifying local resources for victims. Students will also learn about healthy boundaries in relationships, the influence of media, and state and federal laws about sexual abuse and trafficking.

“Traffickers recruit their young victims at high schools and places where our kids hang out – malls, traffic stops, group homes, shelters,” said Shereen Walter, community concerns advocate for the California State PTA. “Education is key to prevention and can help keep sexual abuse and sex trafficking from occurring in the first place.”

Walter said the PTA believes a comprehensive health education includes the physical, mental, emotional and social well-being of students, and that education about the relational part of sexual health is vital.

“We now have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many children because of SB 1165,” said Cody Foute, a survivor advocate and a youth volunteer for the Riverside County Department of Social Services. “We are going to continue to fight and educate to prevent this from happening to our children.”

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