JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local child welfare officials are now working to spread the word about a new law aimed at helping young victims of human trafficking in Florida.
Family Support Services of North Florida partnered with the Department of Children and Families for a forum to discuss the new Safe Harbor law.
Children rescued from prostitution and human trafficking can now get help from child welfare professionals instead of being placed into juvenile delinquency.
Child welfare officials say it's hard to know just how many children have been victimized in this way.
"The whole issue of children who have been victims of prostitution, we sweep it under the rug. We don't want to know about it, we don't want to talk about it," said Lee Kaywork, CEO of Family Support Services of North Florida. "We have a hard time talking about sex with our children, let alone the idea that they'd be involved in prostitution. So you never know what the real scope of the problem is."
Child welfare officials say helping these young victims is a three-fold effort: first, finding foster parents who can take in the children; next, working with the medical community to provide treatment, and mobilizing the community to take on the problem of human trafficking.