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Upholding Justice: The Battle to Protect Minors from Human Trafficking in California

May 1, 2024
Tracy McCray - SFPOA President

In the ongoing struggle to combat human trafficking, particularly the abhorrent practice of exploiting minors, California finds itself at a critical crossroads. Amidst the corridors of power in Sacramento, legislative battles are being waged over bills aimed at strengthening laws to safeguard vulnerable youth from falling prey to this insidious crime. At the forefront of this fight is Senate Bill (SB) 1414, a bipartisan effort led by State Senator Shannon Grove to impose harsh penalties on those who seek to buy minors for sexual exploitation.

For those like Senator Grove, whose tireless commitment to public safety is matched only by their passion for justice, the stakes could not be higher. Each month brings a deluge of legislative updates. I review numerous proposed bills and I will lend my support or opposition to bills that will shape California’s legal landscape. SB 1414 is one of those bills!

SB 1414 emerged as a bipartisan initiative with one clear objective: to protect minor victims of human trafficking by imposing felony charges and state prison sentences on offenders. It seemed like common sense—a necessary step toward holding perpetrators accountable and deterring future exploitation.

However, as I delved deeper into the legislative process, I encountered a disheartening reality: resistance from within the California State Senate Public Safety Committee. Some members, including Senators Scott Wiener and Nancy Skinner, expressed skepticism about the bill’s approach. With Senator Skinner suggesting that the issue of selling sex has persisted throughout history and is too complex to address legislatively. We are talking specifically about children. This is not complex. So, do we just need to accept this as standard practice and let it go? Nope! I do not think so! The stakes are too high and saving children from this nightmare should be the goal, but it sounds like those two senators could care less about innocent children. I would also ask the question to those who did not endorse and pass the bill: for whom are you advocating? Why is this difficult?

(Author Katy Grimes of the California Globe authored an excellent article regarding how this bill was hijacked. Read it at this link:

Such sentiments rang hollow to those who support Senator Grove and who refuse to accept complacency in the face of such egregious violations of human dignity. The argument that human trafficking is an entrenched aspect of human culture overlooks the moral imperative to protect the most vulnerable members of society—our children.

California, unfortunately, is no stranger to the horrors of human trafficking. It is a state where children are ripped away from their families and homes, subjected to unimaginable trauma as they are bought and sold like commodities in a depraved marketplace. The fact that anyone would argue against imposing strict penalties on those who perpetrate such atrocities is nothing short of reprehensible. Shame on those who sit on the public safety committee, you do not care about any child that has been exposed to this fate.
Senator Grove, as well as her supporters’ frustration is palpable as they confront the disturbing reality that some individuals, including those within the California Public Defenders Association, view human trafficking as a low-level offense deserving minimal police attention. To dismiss the exploitation of minors as a trivial matter or to suggest that legal nuances somehow mitigate the severity of the crime is not just misguided—it is morally bankrupt. The harm suffered by these children should matter.

In the face of such opposition, Senator Grove and her supporters remain undeterred. Their resolve to advocate for the protection of minors from human trafficking is unwavering. If anything, the resistance encountered only strengthens their determination to fight for justice, to ensure that those who seek to profit from the suffering of innocent children are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

As the battle rages on within the hallowed halls of the California State Capitol, Senator Grove’s voice serves as a beacon of hope—a reminder that in the fight against human trafficking, there can be no compromise. The protection of minors is not a partisan issue; it is a moral imperative that transcends politics and demands unwavering commitment from all who believe in the inherent dignity and worth of every human being.

Anyone who went to see the excellent and gut-wrenching movie, starring Jim Caviezel, ‘The Sound of Freedom,’ knows that one cannot sit on the sideline and hopes that others will take care of the issue. For those of you reading this article and want to show your support for what Senator Grove is trying to accomplish please sign the petition and share it with everyone you know: