With less than 2 weeks left in the 83rd Texas Legislative Session, victories for children are starting to roll in! Here are the most recent wins for Texas’ kids:
The Texas Legislature took great strides forward in the fight to end human trafficking and to care for the victims of this terrible crime by passing three groundbreaking pieces of legislation yesterday and today. SB 92, Leticia Van de Putte, (sponsored by Senfronia Thompson), ensures that children who are forced into prostitution are treated as victims of a crime, rather than as criminals themselves. It creates diversion courts to provide treatment and services to victims to heal and rebuild their lives.
SB 94, Leticia Van de Putte, (sponsored by Senfronia Thompson), allows survivors of human trafficking to seek civil remedies against those who compel their prostitution as well as those who purchase advertisements that promote their prostitution. This bill addresses the exploding marketplace for prostitution on the internet by allowing survivors to recover monetary damages from traffickers who sell them for sex on websites such as backpage.com and others. These resources are essential in allowing victims to obtain rehabilitative services and counseling, and to hit traffickers where it hurts—their profits.
HB 1272, Senfronia Thompson, (sponsored by Leticia Van de Putte), requires the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force to work with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Health and Human Services Commission to develop curriculum and training for medical providers and school personnel to identify human trafficking victims. Teachers and medical providers are often the first people in a position to recognize the situation human trafficking victims are in, therefore the correct training is essential to make sure that the opportunity to intervene and help victims is not lost.
With the passage of SB 92, SB 94, and HB 1272, the 83rd Texas Legislature continued Texas’ tradition of being a national leader in the fight against human trafficking, and we look forward to even more progress in the days ahead!
Finally, another great accomplishment for children was achieved today with the passage of SB 426, Jane Nelson, (sponsored by John Zerwas), which will allocate funding for evidence-based home visiting programs that serve at-risk families. These are voluntary, preventative programs in which specially trained professionals such as nurses, social workers, and child development specialists have recurring visits with pregnant women and families with young children. They have been shown to have a variety of positive outcomes for families such as a child’s enhanced performance in school, reductions in child abuse and neglect, reductions in crime, and improvements in family economic self-sufficiency.