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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.
Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.
Stopping Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors
For some reason, on the state level, since 2002 for every 41 convictions of a juvenile for prostitution there has been only one conviction for exploiting a minor for prostitution. Why aren’t the convictions higher for the adults abusing our children, siblings, and grandkids?
If an adult who has sex with a minor is guilty of abusing a minor, shouldn’t a person who pays for sex with a minor be guilty of commercial sexual abuse of a minor? SB 5718 will send a message to law enforcement to refocus enforcement on the adult committing the crime. We can only get serious about reducing commercial sexual abuse of minors by making it harder for adults to exploit youth.
An additional one-year enhancement would be tacked on to the sentence of someone convicted of the most serious crimes of sexual abuse against children, if the offender paid to engage in the abuse.
Law enforcement must hold accountable the adults who victimize these youth and we must help these youth access prevention and intervention services. The new enforcement emphasis SB 5718 provides will result in additional funds being available to the prostitution intervention and prevention account to help these victimized children and teens access residential treatment; mental health and substance abuse services; health care; and school or vocational training.
Public policy should reflect our values. We owe it to our youth to keep them safe, whether keeping them off the streets and if already there, making it easier to get help and punishing those who victimize them.