Bill would protect children trafficked for sex

A bill working its way through the Legislature would ensure young people engaging in prostitution are treated as victims – not criminals.

The goal is to make sure that children get services to help them – instead of putting them through the juvenile justice system.

If passed, Minnesota would become the fifth state to enact a so-called “safe harbor” protecting children from being prosecuted for prostitution. New York was the first to pass safe harbors language in 2008, with Washington, Illinois and Connecticut following suit.

Prosecutors in the Twin Cities and Duluth areas have already thrown support behind the idea, saying the new approach will give kids the treatment they need and keep them safe.