MN Safe Harbor funding, an incomplete victory

Minnesota had an “incomplete victory” with the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth Act, receiving $2.8 million of the $13.5 million requested.

While providers and advocates are happy with this victory, the fact that it only will cover a small portion of the needed services is still overwhelming. The Star Tribune stated today:

“The $2.8 million appropriation will fund what is believed to be the nation’s first statewide director of child sex-trafficking prevention, as well as six regional coordinator positions and up to 12 beds providing safe shelter and treatment. The $13.5 million would have supported up to 40 beds across the state. There are just four secure beds available today.” 

However, it also stated that there are no hard statistics on how many youth are bought and sold in Minnesota, which has caused readers to comment that they shouldn’t receive more funding until more stats are provided. 

This is sad to me, because one: how the heck can we get stats for how many girls and boys are being exploited if we don’t have enough funds to adequately staff our agencies or Vice squads in order to gather that data?

Two, there are enough stats out there to build a case for such funding. For example:

“A November 2010 study found that each month in Minnesota at least 213 girls are sold for sex an average of five times per day through the Internet and escort services. This number does not include hotel, street or gang activity” (from MN Girls are Not for Sale, a campaign of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota).

Also, the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center did a whole study on sexual exploitation using data from 95 women and girls who entered their own program. Read it here: Shattered Hearts. On top of that, studies and statistics were shared with the legislator during the hearings.

So, there are statistics to back up the needs for support. But just like sexual abuse or assault, the numbers will always be much, much smaller than the true number, as sexual crimes come with an overwhelming amount of shame and secrecy.

You can read the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s first reaction to Safe Harbor here: It’s a Wrap

You can read today’s article in the Star Tribune here: Child sex trafficking is a Minnesota public health issue

You can read the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s reaction to the Star Tribune article here.