WHEREAS, the United Nations International Labor Organization estimated in 2016 that more than 1 million children worldwide were victims of commercial sexual exploitation; and
WHEREAS, too many of Minnesota’s young people have experienced physical and sexual abuse, neglect, traumatic loss and violence that put them at risk for exploitation and abuse; and
WHEREAS, human trafficking devastates young people across the socioeconomic, ethnic and geographic spectrum, but seems to have a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, as well as those who are homeless or who live in poverty; and
WHEREAS, the No Wrong Door and Safe Harbor initiatives guide Hennepin County as an institution to work on the principle that survivors of exploitation are victims not criminals, and that every young person deserves to seek a life of safety and security; and
WHEREAS, many of these at-risk youth are known to Hennepin County, through human services, child protection, public health and law enforcement, and we recognize many rich opportunities across every line of business to intervene with, divert and empower young people to create healthier and better lives for themselves; and
WHEREAS, during 2017, Hennepin County staff served 73 young people, ages 11 to 17 who either had experienced or were at risk for exploitation or trafficking, and connected them with housing, mental health resources, diversion opportunities and social services; and
WHEREAS, protecting our most vulnerable residents is a core function of Hennepin County government; and
WHEREAS, Human Trafficking Awareness Month is a time to recognize the significant work Hennepin County is performing to keep our young people safe.