New York Governor David Paterson recently signed The Safe Harbor For Exploited Youth Act into law. The Governor's website describes the act as one that, "requires local [New York] districts to provide crisis intervention services and community based programming for exploited youth. Currently, individuals under the age of 18 who are arrested for prostitution or other illegal activities of a sexual nature enter the criminal justice system with the legal presumption that they are juvenile delinquents. This bill would decriminalize child prostitution, recognizing these children as victims, not criminals, and provide them with necessary social services."
David Paterson made the following statement, regarding why he thinks this law is so important: “As a society we must do everything in our power to prevent sexual exploitation, but when it does occur we must be prepared to assist our youth with appropriate outreach services. For too long we have been disciplining young children who are the victims of brutal sexual exploitation instead of providing them with the necessary services to reintegrate them into society and ensure they receive adequate crisis intervention. This law establishes a Safe Harbor Act which will ensure that sexually exploited youth receive counseling and emergency services as well as long term housing solutions.”