FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – Fresno is the center of a push to make child trafficking a serious felony – and bring about a change to state law.
Debra Rush, founder and CEO of Breaking the Chains, says human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing, if not the fastest-growing criminal activity impacting youth between the ages of 12 and 25 years old. Rush was speaking as part of a round table discussion on Tuesday in Fresno.
“Right now, Breaking the Chains has 117 active clients today, in the Fresno/Clovis area. It is really important that the community understand that there’s been a cultural desensitization to sex and violence here within our community and gangs have taken advantage of this and capitalized on what is happening which is allowing our children to become low-hanging fruit,” said Rush.
Rush added what she felt is really important for people to understand is that human trafficking is one of the most complex and complicated crimes of modern-day times.
“My hope today is that people will open their eyes, that people will begin to understand that human trafficking can impact anyone, from any socioeconomic background. It’s happening north of Shaw, it’s happening south of Shaw, it can happen to men, women, children, people of all walks and ages,” said Rush.
In Sacramento on September 1, the bill that aims to make child trafficking a serious felony in California (SB-14) will be discussed at a suspense hearing – where legislators review bills and their financial impact, and where decisions on a bill are made without public discussion. The bill’s future will be decided at that hearing.
Breaking the Chains is a local, non-profit organization that works with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to provide hope, healing, and restoration to lives impacted by human trafficking.