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Increasing public safety for vulnerable Hoosier children

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Erin Houchin

 

District 47 State Senator

 

Recently, the Indiana Senate passed legislation I sponsored that seeks to protect vulnerable and exploited minors in Indiana. House Bill 1216 would change state law so that children younger than 18 who are involved in prostitution as victims of human trafficking won’t be prosecuted.

This bill would also require any police agency that detains a possible human trafficking victim younger than 18 to immediately contact the Department of Child Services. It also provides a legal defense against certain crimes if the person was a child and victim of human or sexual trafficking at the time the prohibited conduct occurred.

Children in such tragic situations should be treated as victims because they often face violence and intimidation by those who exploit them. This legislation aims to provide protection so these individuals can receive help and avoid returning to such dangerous and harmful circumstances.

Additionally, HB 1216 would require the Superintendent of the Indiana State Police to create a written informational pamphlet on missing and exploited children that would be distributed to every law enforcement agency in the state. The pamphlet would be given to anyone who reports a missing child at the time the person makes the report.

This pamphlet would include information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Runaway Safeline, which works to support and reunite families with their children. Unfortunately, under current law, limited information is given to those that report a missing child.

By requiring law enforcement to provide information to the families that report a missing child, we are taking a necessary step to increase public safety and reconnect those children with their families.

The Senate voted 49-0 to approve the bill that earlier cleared the House of Representatives by a 98-0 vote. The measure now goes to Gov. Pence for his consideration.

As always you can contact my office directly with your input, questions and concerns by email at Senator.Houchin@iga.in.gov or by phone at (317) 232-9400. I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Houchin represents Perry County in the state senate.