SACRAMENTO—The California Legislature has approved with strong bipartisan support AB 1702 by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) to protect children who have been forced into sex work from reunification with their abusers.
“Vulnerable children who enter foster care deserve to rebuild their lives free from abuse,” said Stone. “This bill helps ensure that the system does not punish abused people for the crimes of their abusers.”
The approved measure adds the sexual exploitation of a child for commercial purposes to the list of circumstances under which family reunification is foregone when a child is brought into foster care. This targeted bill provides additional legal protections to foster youth who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation at the hands of their own parents or guardians. It also provides new protections in state law that such foster youth are not placed at risk of further exploitation by the very system that is supposed to protect them.
AB 1702 is one of several bills in Stone’s legislative package designed to help minors who have suffered from sexual abuse. AB 1684, signed by the Governor in July, gives human trafficking victims the opportunity to seek justice through a civil action and be awarded damages for their suffering. AB 1682, which awaits a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee, prohibits secret settlements of childhood sexual abuse cases in order to make all offenders accountable to the public and law enforcement.
The Governor must decide before the end of the month whether to sign the bill into law. If signed, AB 1702 goes into effect on January 1, 2017.