Today, the House Judiciary Committee took an important step in protecting vulnerable children and youth from human trafficking in Kentucky by passing House Bill 3. We applaud the House Judiciary Committee for standing up for children today. We also want to thank Representative Overly, Representative Wuchner and the many other co-sponsors of this bill for their leadership and commitment to this issue.

Kentucky Youth Advocates, along with more than fifty organizations in Kentucky, adopted this issue as part of the 2013 Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children. The members of the Blueprint recognized the trauma inflicted on children by this terrible crime and identified this work as a priority knowing we as a state can do better in serving the children impacted.

We strongly support the components of this bill which create a “safe harbor” for children. This “safe harbor” means that Kentucky will no longer lock up or charge children for crimes that were committed as a result of being trafficked. Instead, the response will be one that addresses child victims with the care and compassion they need to recover from such a horrific experience.

Creating this “safe harbor” statute is something Kentucky’s children need. Responding effectively and with compassion to children who have been victims of such horrific crimes offers our best chance at helping the victims recover and restart their lives.

We now ask the full House of Representatives to pass House Bill 3 and for the Senate to take it up this session. Now is the time to pass this bill through each chamber and deliver it to the Governor. Kids can’t wait; they need to be protected now.