A recent report on the number of sexually exploited children in Florida gives insight into a horrific world that is often ignored by the media, and that rarely holds millionaires, politicians and even local officials accountable for their involvement.
A report from the Florida legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability concluded that the state’s Department of Children and Family (DCF) and its lead agencies “have not resolved issues related to serving commercially sexually exploited children.”
The report found that in 2016, 356 verified commercially sexually exploited child victims were identified, as opposed to 264 identified in 2015. It noted that many of the victims who were identified earlier were, “both children in child welfare dependency and those living in the community with family—have since been re-victimized, involved with the criminal justice system, or only attended school intermittently.”
“During 2016, DCF’s Florida Abuse Hotline received 2,013 reports alleging the CSE of children, which is a 57% increase over the 2015 reports. Child protective investigators investigated 1,386 (or 69%) of those reports. Counties with the highest number of CSE reports include Miami-Dade (248), Broward (232), Orange (150), and Hillsborough (144). DCF hotline staff did not refer cases for investigation if the allegation did not rise to the level of reasonable (74%), there were no means to locate the victim (11%), or the alleged perpetrator was not the child’s caregiver (8%). Of the reports that were referred for investigation, most came from DJJ, the Department of Corrections, or criminal justice personnel (20%) and law enforcement (15%).”
In 2016, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received reports of 7,572 human trafficking cases, which was a substantial increase from 5,544 cases in 2015 and 5,042 cases in 2014. Florida ranked third on the list with 550 cases, behind Texas with 670 cases and California with 1,323 cases.
Out of the 7,572 human trafficking cases reported in the United States in 2016, the majority or 5,551 were “sex trafficking” cases, and 2,387 of the reported victims were minors.
The report on child sex trafficking in Florida suggested that the increase in victims was due to the process DCF and the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) use to “select children to screen as well as the screening tool itself may limit accurate identification of CSE child victims.”
The report also noted that 62 percent of the children who were labeled as commercially sexually exported remained “in the community and are referred to voluntary, local services.” As a result, “no data is readily available on whether the children use these services.”
The Free Thought Project has provided extensive coverage of the sex trafficking epidemic in the U.S., especially in relation to minors who become victims after they are kidnapped from their homes and placed in foster care.
In April, two pastors who were foster care advocates were arrested for running a child sex ring in Ohio. The pastors, who had influence on their county’s Child Service’s Board of Trustees, were charged with “recruiting, enticing and transporting people the men knew were under 18 to engage in sex acts for pay.” The trafficking was ongoing for at least three years, and initially began with a 14-year-old girl.
In June, a lawsuit was filed in the case of a 5-year-old girl who was given to the leader of a child sex ring in Arizona. She was taken from her mother who was battling an addiction with substance abuse, and she was put in the custody of a pedophile who sexually abused her, tortured her, and ultimately left her fighting for her life.
The recent report from Florida is another reminder that child sex trafficking is a horrific element of the human trafficking epidemic that has been ongoing and increasing in the United States. While government involvement has always been an element, it has yet to put a stop to the increasing number of children who are subjected to life-altering abuse on a daily basis.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock said there was a “growing recognition” of the need for Britain to embrace a Norway-style arrangement to head off the threat of severe economic damage.
He is seeking support for Britain remaining within the European Economic Area (EEA) after Brexit and, therefore, the EU single market, for a “time-bound period.”
“I have been reaching out with a particular proposal to 15 Conservative MPs so far,” Kinnock told the Telegraph.
“There is a growing recognition now in the economy that getting the right transition deal is now the top priority.
“What we need to do is to form a coalition of common sense to secure in particular a sensible pragmatic transition deal, which in my opinion should be based on the EEA. It is a sensible halfway house to give our economy the certainty it so desperately needs.”
Prime Minister Theresa May has made ending free movement her ‘red line’ in the Brexit negotiations, arguing that the public clearly voted to curb EU immigration. But a growing number of MPs argue it is possible to prevent people coming to Britain without jobs to go to without breaching EU rules on free movement.
Given May’s precarious working majority of just 12, a group of 15 rebel Tories could be sufficient to defeat the Tories in any Commons vote.
That, however, would require Labour to shift its Brexit policy. Currently the policy is to keep the “benefits” of membership of the single market, without explaining how.
The talks come as the government published legislation which will repatriate thousands of Brussels powers to London after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said his party will not support the bill in its current form.
He is demanding that the charter be fully incorporated into UK law, ensuring Britain’s worker rights match the EU’s and demanding a change to the so-called ‘Henry VIII powers,’ which give the government the power to change legislation without full parliamentary scrutiny.
“The government does not have a majority in Parliament, it does not have a mandate to do what it likes in Parliament. Parliament must be consulted and be able to decide on these issues.”
Girls as young as ten are among more than 200,000 children wed to adults in the United States in just the past 15 years, as — despite minimum requirements a person reach the age of 18, or legal adulthood, nationally — a smattering of locations have preserved loopholes legally permitting child marriage.
Alarmingly, the number of children married away to fully mature adults could be much higher than the already-startling number — ten states provide only fragmentary statistics, or none at all.
And the loopholes don’t exist solely in theory — adults across the U.S. have actively opportuned the law to marry kids — even amid a decline in the number of marriages, overall.
To wit, three 10-year-old girls and an 11-year-old boy were among the hundreds of thousands of children and minors the system somehow permitted adults to lock into marriage — despite their bodies and minds not yet being fully developed.
“At least 207,468 minors married in the US between 2000 and 2015, according to data compiled by Unchained At Last, a group campaigning to abolish child marriage, and investigative documentary series Frontline,” The Independent reports.
Exemptions from the national marriage minimum age of 18 exist for circumstances like pregnancy and parental consent — in every state in the country.
However, record-keeping remains inconsistent across the country, and details regarding the nature of child marriages — if unintended pregnancy made the union tenable, for instance — usually aren’t included.
Indeed, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — citing conditions such as religious customs — bore the brunt of furious criticism recently for refusing to sign into law restrictions barring children under the age of 18 from tying the knot or entering a civil unions.
“I agree that protecting the wellbeing, dignity, and freedom of minors is vital,” Christie placated an irate populace, upon refusing to codify the law in early May, “but the severe bar this bill creates is not necessary to address the concerns voiced by the bill’s proponents and does not comport with the sensibilities and, in some cases, the religious customs, of the people of this State.”
Unchained At Last Founder and Executive Director Fraidy Reiss — herself, an albeit older victim of forced marriage — told Frontline that, upon first obtaining child marriage statistics for New Jersey, where her organization is based,
“I got that spreadsheet from the state health department, I was literally shaking.”
Data for the state revealed just under 3,500 youth — largely 16- and 17-year-olds — wed adults between 1995 and 2012.
“That number was so much higher than I had thought it would be,” Reiss told the PBS program. “Then, the fact that the children were as young as 13 and the fact that it was mostly girls married to adult men.”
Across the U.S., insufficient data still show the number of marriages involving minors and children dropped by 61 percent in the decade between 2000 and 2010 — but even that figure could be wildly inaccurate without further information readily available.
Lest doubt take root, these figures haven’t been bloated by an excess of youth permitted to marry other youth — fully 86 percent of marriages analyzed with available data involved adults wedding kids under 18.
“The youngest children to marry were three 10-year-old girls in Tennessee in 2001, who were married to men ages 24, 25 and 31, according to state data. The youngest groom was an 11-year-old boy, also in Tennessee, who married a 27-year-old woman in 2006.
“Children as young as 12 were granted marriage licenses in Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
“Thirteen-year-olds were given the green light to marry in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.”
Around the United States, adults — as old as the 74-year-old Alabama man, whose bride was six decades his junior — ostensibly committed to lifetime relationships with three 10-year-olds, two 11-year-olds, ten 12-year-olds, fifty-one 13-year-olds, and 985 children aged 14.
Of course, individual states’ legal loopholes don’t necessarily jibe with federal mandates pertaining to marriageable age — not to mention the gross breach of social mores and protections for children.
Frontline suggests this odd and astonishing discrepancy — if not outright hypocrisy — leaves cavernous gaps in consistency of law:
“Most states set the age of sexual consent between 16 and 18. A person can be charged with sexual abuse or statutory rape for having sex with a minor. Yet, we found numerous examples of children who were given marriage licenses before they could legally consent to sex. These marriages were almost always approved by court clerks and judges.”
Advocates working to close gaping loopholes caution that age cannot necessarily be the primary indicator of a distressing betrothal.
“A large age difference is an automatic red flag, but a small age difference is not an automatic green flag,” attorney Jeanne Smoot, of the Tahirih Justice Center, which works to eradicate all marriages involving minors, told Frontline, adding authorities rarely pursue charges against adults in marriages to kids, as “the same acts that would be statutory rape outside of marriage are made lawful within.”
Most states allowing adults to take a child spouse require the consent of one or both parents, permission from a judge, or some combination thereof — however, there is a rather astonishing footnote to this underbelly of marriage and child love in the United States.
“In 26 states, there’s no minimum marriage age, according to the Tahirih Justice Center. Children in those states can get married at any age if certain conditions are met.”
Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/us-laws-legalized-pedophilia-children/
The “War on Drugs” has failed so miserably, that now even the head of the Department of Homeland Security is admitting that it is won’t stop the current drug crisis.
DHS Secretary John Kelly testified before Congress on the Trump Administration’s 2018 Homeland Security budget request on Tuesday. He told Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) he believes the current methods used by the United States are a “complete waste of time,” given that fact that there is still such a high demand for the same drugs the U.S. is trying to eliminate.
“If we don’t reduce the drug demand in the United States for heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, this is all a complete waste of time,” Kelly said. “The bad news for Mexico and the southwest border is, largely because of our drug demand, an incredibly efficient network has developed that stretches, frankly, from around the world, goes through the Western Hemisphere … into the United States.”
Kelly said he believes it is not up to law enforcement to solve the problem. He believes it is up to Hollywood, professional athletes, and even politicians, to influence society to turn to a more holistic approach.
“We’ve got to take a much more holistic approach to this [drug problem], demand reduction, rehabilitation,” Kelly said. “Certainly law enforcement plays a role in the homeland. The southwest border plays a role.”
Kelly told Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) that his primary strategy revolves around restrictions on “precursor drugs.”
“The United States wants to try to kill themselves with methamphetamine, heck, we can do it for them,” Kelly said. “Congressional action in terms of restricting the precursors—that’s primarily, in my view, the solution to the problem.”
While Kelly has not pushed for decriminalizing all drugs, or even specifically ending marijuana prohibition, his comments do set him apart from other prominent figures in the Trump Administration.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has a reputation for being one of the most anti-marijuana members of Congress. His voting record includes evidence that he is a vocal advocate for the federal government interfering with state laws on marijuana legalization, and that he is against Veterans Affairs doctors having the right to recommend medical marijuana to veterans who might benefit from it.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is also a strong advocate for the federal government increasing the “War on Drugs,” despite its track record. He even went as far as to say that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” during a Senate hearing in April 2016.
“I can’t tell you how concerning it is for me, emotionally and personally, to see the possibility that we will reverse the progress that we’ve made,” Sessions said. “It was the prevention movement that really was so positive, and it led to this decline. The creating of knowledge that this drug is dangerous, it cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Kelly made headlines in April, when he told Meet The Press that he believes filling prisons with nonviolent offenders arrested on drug charges won’t solve the drug crisis.
“The solution is not arresting a lot of users,” Kelly said. “The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill. And then rehabilitation.”
Kelly also said marijuana, which is listed as a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S., is not a factor. He noted that the use of drugs such as meth, heroin and cocaine led to over 52,000 deaths in 2015.
“Marijuana is not a factor in the drug war,” Kelly said. “Drug consumption in the United States is the problem, just cocaine alone when you consider the massive amounts of profit that come out of the United States.”
Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/homeland-security-head-admits-drug-waste/