By: Houston Chronicle
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble is joining his fellow Texans’ efforts to curb child sex trafficking by introducing a new bill to help develop programs for victims.
At a House hearing Wednesday, Poe said failures in the foster care system have put children in Texas and other states at more risk for being forced into the sex trade. He also pointed out Houston’s status as “a hub for this despicable crime.”
“Many people think this is a myth, not a fact, and that it couldn’t happen here. But the problem is very real, especially amongst vulnerable youth in the child welfare system,” Poe said at the hearing.
The bill, called the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, will attempt to develop support programs for sex trafficking victims, Poe said. It will also attempt to further penalize those who pay for sex acts.
Sen. John Cornyn has filed a similar bill in the Senate. Poe and fellow Republican Michael McCaul, R-Austin, have also introduced bills to more closely evaluate protective service agency employees.
Other child service agency representatives testified at the hearing and said the lack of strong family support in foster care often leads to children running away or being forced into the sex trade.
According to the Texas Tribune, Texas was among the first states to recognize child sex trafficking as a specific crime, and the crime is more prominent there because of easier mobility on large highways and proximity to the border.
According to Children At Risk, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the education and well-being of children, the Texas-Mexican border is the number one site for child sex trafficking to occur.