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Leave no child behind


Since 2010, the United States has recognized January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a designated observance designed to bring awareness to human trafficking and the victims impacted by it.
Human trafficking is a very real and present problem in Arkansas and across the country. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Fortunately, Arkansas has an anti-trafficking law, a bill that I worked to pass when I was in the state legislature in 2013, which addresses and combats trafficking across the Natural State.
A few years ago, I had the solemn opportunity to meet a young lady named Sara Kruzan, who shared her story as a child victim of sex trafficking. At only 11 years old, Sara was groomed by a man she trusted and forced into sex slavery. After years of abuse at the hands of her trafficker, she escaped and later returned to retaliate against her abuser – killing him in the process. Because of a flawed system, after what I can only imagine felt like a lifetime of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, Sara was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at only 17 years old. Sara was pardoned, but many are not as fortunate.
Did you know that the United States is one of the only nations in the world that allows child victims of sex trafficking who retaliate against their abuser to grow up in prison because they chose to fight back? My bill, the Child Sex Crimes Victims Protection Act, will significantly reform how child victims of trafficking are sentenced if they retaliate against their abusers, and ensure they have a second chance at life.
Unfortunately, despite the trauma child victims of trafficking endure, they are often prosecuted as adults in the U.S. for fighting back. I will continue to work diligently in the House to push this critical bill closer to the finish line. This January, I hope you will join me in praying for the thousands of victims of trafficking across our nation, and I hope you will join me in advocating for those victims and ensuring they will never be left behind or forgotten.