Four Representatives & ECPAT-USA Introduce Guide To Help Members Of Congress Discuss Child Trafficking With Constituents

Four members of the House, Chris Smith (R-NJ), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Mike McCaul (R-TX) and Pete Olson (R-TX), joined ECPAT-USA, the leading organization fighting sex trafficking of children, in introducing a guide to help members of Congress organize a discussion with constituents when there is a trafficking case in their districts on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. at the Capitol Visitor Center, Room 268, U.S. Capitol.

The Sex Trafficking Public Conversation Resource Guide is available on ECPAT-USA’s website at this link.

“Americans are frequently surprised and alarmed to hear that child sex trafficking cases might occur right in their own backyards. Members of Congress can play an important role by using the opportunity to educate the public about the issue, how to respond and what government is doing to protect children,” said Carol Smolenski, ECPAT-USA Executive Director.

“ECPAT has been at the forefront of alerting communities and those on the frontlines – including police, health care workers, and people in the transportation and lodging industries – on how to identify predators and help victims in order to aggressively combat the scourge of human trafficking,” said Rep. Chris Smith, author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act and four other trafficking bills enacted into law. “ECPAT’s Sex Trafficking Public Conversation Resource Guide will go a long way toward helping educate the public – including members of Congress – about how to identify and stop sex trafficking.”

“Protecting our young people is our national and moral responsibility,” said Congressman Alcee L. Hastings. “ECPAT-USA’s guide is absolutely vital to spreading awareness and helping our communities confront and understand the prevalence of child sex trafficking that is perpetrated in our cities, suburbs, and rural communities. While human trafficking spans all demographics, as Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness and a member of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, I am painfully aware that children from high-risk backgrounds are more vulnerable to victimization, exploitation, and human trafficking. This is why today, Reps. Buchanan, Wasserman Shultz, and Steube are joining me in introducing the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act of 2019, to introduce critical trafficking and exploitation prevention training into our highest-need school communities. I’m grateful for ECPAT-USA’s endorsement and look forward to continuing to work with this leading organization to combine awareness with prevention efforts to spare young people from the horrors of this modern-day form of slavery.”

“Human trafficking is a crisis that occurs each day in our very own communities,” said Congressman Michael McCaul. “In Texas alone, 300,000 people are entrapped in this nightmare. As a country, we need to wake up to the fact that this is a crisis and actively wipe out this modern day form of slavery. I commend ECPAT for all the excellent work they have done, and continue to do, in our communities to raise awareness of human trafficking in the U.S. I will continue to work with law enforcement and advocacy groups such as ECPAT, and others.”

“Stopping human trafficking is an important issue that hits close to home — just last month, a police sting in my district led to the arrest of dozens of human traffickers,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “I’ve been working closely with local elected officials for years to try to end this brutal form of modern day slavery. Organizations like ECPAT and their Sex Trafficking Public Conversation Resource Guide are an important part of the solution. As Co-Chair of the Victim’s Rights Caucus in Congress and with the exceptional work of law enforcement, local advocates and volunteers, we must end this evil once and for all.”

“I want to thank all our partners, Reps. Alcee Hastings, Mike McCaul and Pete Olson for their continued partnership with ECPAT-USA in ending child exploitation and trafficking. Their dedication to protecting children from this heinous crime is admirable and we are grateful to have their voices in Congress. I also want to thank Congressman Chris Smith, a long-time leader whose name is synonymous with anti-trafficking in the U.S. Congressman Smith was the Republican House sponsor for the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act, signed into law in 2000. It is the centerpiece for all of the anti-trafficking work in the United States that has occurred since then. He has been absolutely steadfast in ensuring that the issue stays front and center in both national and international policy discussions,” Smolenski said.

The resources in this guide were developed by ECPAT-USA for elected officials to take the lead in their districts in helping community members confront and understand the existence of sex trafficking in their midst. It is expected that the guide will be useful after a case of sex trafficking has been identified in the district. Americans are frequently surprised and alarmed to hear that these trafficking cases might occur right in their own backyards and are not aware of all the forms that human trafficking can take, specifically sex trafficking. It is not a crime that only happens to people in other countries, it happens frequently here in the U.S.

The resource guide will help Members of Congress to plan a community meeting with suggestions for who to invite, an agenda, talking points, a sample press release, and background information about the topic.

The launch of the Guide was made possible through the support of the following sponsors: The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), UBER, MGM Resorts International, American Airlines, Marriott International, Hilton, and Guidepost Solutions. Marriott International is the lunch sponsor.