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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Sex Trafficking Prevention Measure Passes the Kentucky Senate

Following a growing recognition of the existence of child sex trafficking in the United States, the Kentucky Senate has approved a resolution in hopes of curtailing the crime.

Senate Resolution 149 recognized the hospitality industry’s role in identifying and preventing child sex trafficking. The resolution also encourages Kentuckians to patronize hospitality facilities that participate in the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct. SR 149 was adopted yesterday on the Senate floor by a 35-0 vote.

The code of conduct is an “established initiative to provide support in training the travel and tourism industry in preventing sexual exploitation of children,” said Rep. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, who introduced the resolution.

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According to SR 149, an estimated 199,000 incidents of sexual exploitation of minors occur each year in the United States. Of those incidents, 45 percent of youth victims are exploited in hotels.

“Child sex trafficking is a serious issue that we hope our hospitality industry here in Kentucky will take a strong look at,” said Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, who stood in support of SR 149.

SR 149 passed out of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee last week. During that meeting, Kerr said the hospitality industry can play an important role in preventing and disrupting traffickers who use the anonymity hotels provide to do their business.

Another person who testified at the meeting in support of SR 149 was Mary Kunze of the advocacy group Family Foundation of Kentucky.

“I believe that together we, the citizens of Kentucky, can make our state a safer place for our children and a place where exploiters know that they are not welcome,” she said.

This initiative to prompt the hospitality industry into action would encourage hotels, motels and tourism industries to educate their employees of the signs that surround trafficking, Kunze said. These warning signs can include young girls entering hotels alone with an out-of-state ID, paying for the room with cash or noticeably tense and alert behavior.

Kent Gilbert, president of the Kentucky Council of Churches also spoke at the committee hearing in supporter of SR 149.

“Kentucky is a great state and we have a lot of folks come for tourism,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon us to make sure that we’re not letting that greatness become a vehicle for exploitation."

PHOTO: Sen. Wil Schroder and Sen. David Givens in the Senate. LRC.  

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