October 1, 2014

Van Hollen hopes to target child sex trafficking

When it comes to protecting children, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen believes high-profile crimes often direct the spotlight away from more widespread problems.

The recent mass shooting in Newtown, CT has driven calls for new gun control laws and other measures aimed at making schools safer, but Van Hollen says many more children are being harmed in horrible ways every day that go on without as much attention. Of particular concern to Van Hollen is child sex trafficking, which he says is a problem in the state that many people know almost nothing about. He says the victims are unlikely to report the crime to police, since they are either being threatened or are reliant on their pimp for food and shelter.

The attorney general says he hopes to intensify the Department of Justice’s focus on the issue over the next two years with additional funding from the state. Van Hollen’s budget request includes over $900,000 for additional resources and five new employees to focus full-time on fighting child sex trafficking.

Van Hollen says “there’s an awful lot we can do to protect our children based upon knowledge that we already have, I think we need to implement it.”

The request is being considered by Governor Walker, who will introduce his proposed biennial budget bill this spring.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:03)