WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rob Portman (OH) sat down in an exclusive interview with Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro. On the agenda: his new sex trafficking legislation.
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
Policastro: Senator, we know that in Ohio there is a shocking statistic. More than 1,000 children are involved with sex trafficking every single year. Now we’ve learned that many of those children were children that were reported missing. You’re working on legislation that will try to track those missing children.
Portman: The idea is to try and collect more data about this so law enforcement can try and find out who these kids are, who are missing and therefore getting exploited, and to provide better information to child welfare agencies.
Policastro: Senator, we know that many of these children, most of these children are from the child welfare system. Do you think there’s a larger problem there?
Portman: I think there is a need to look into this in a deeper way. The federal government has a role here by the way, because there is federal funding through the social security administration for child welfare that the states take advantage of. So we have the opportunity here to help make these child welfare agencies work better. To identify these kids, get them the services that they need.
Policastro: On this issue, we know what we don’t know. We know we don’t have enough data. What’s happening to try and change that?
Portman: The legislation we have does provide the states with incentive to collect this data and then to have that data be known nationally and to have a better way to find these kids and identify these kids. There’s lots of interest in this in Ohio, the law enforcement community is excited about the legislation. They want the data, they want to be able to track down these kids.
Policastro: About this time last year, you started up the Senate Caucus to end human trafficking. There’s certainly a lot of issues that you can be a champion for up here in Capitol Hill. Do you think this is one you’re confident you can make a change, not just in Toledo, but throughout the country?
Portman: I believe so, even the world. We’ve already made some changes in law that relates more to this international human trafficking. Now we’re beginning to focus more on the United States and specifically the issue of young kids and sex trafficking.