Washington Congressman Focused on Horrors of Sex Trafficking

By Tom Bacon

Washington Congressman Dave Reichert fears that kids in foster care all too often become kids who are sexually abused, trafficked and victimized. He aims to do something about it.

Reichert, a Republican, is chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources. He's holding a hearing in Auburn Washington Wednesday morning, hoping to gather testimony about ways to better protect youngsters in foster care from sex trafficking.

Reichert saw - and had to deal with - the abuse first hand when he was sheriff of King County. He said there is a clear connection between children in the child welfare system and the odds that they'll be dragged into sex trafficking. Three years ago in Los Angeles, for example, Reichert said that nearly 6 out 10 girls arrested for prostitution were in the foster care system. And about 60 percent of kids reported missing in a national registry were also in foster care and were likely sex trafficking victims.

Reichert is writing a bill which he hopes will force states to identify sex victims, to more quickly track down foster care runaways and to investigate more carefully whether they've been used as sex pawns. His measure would also promote ways to make the lives of foster children more normal. For example, he would make sure such kids have Social Security cards, driver's licenses and maybe even bank accounts.

His subcommittee hearing in Auburn will hear stories from law enforcement officials, welfare workers and victimized youngsters who were forced into the sex trade.
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