Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Sussex, has submitted legislation to criminalize the act of making and publishing commercial sex advertisements that depict minors.
“It is utterly incomprehensible to abuse children in sex advertisements and to publish those ads for a buck,” Bateman said. “What is just as deplorable is that this abuse-for-profit also directly promotes the crimes of human sex trafficking and prostitution involving minors.”
Senator Bateman’s bill, S-2021, makes it a third-degree crime to knowingly advertise the commercial sexual abuse of a minor, carrying a three-to-five-year prison term and a fine up to $10,000. This legislation — modeled after a Washington State law and in line with federal initiatives — requires publishers and advertisers to obtain evidence, such as photo identifications, proving that people depicted in sex advertisements are 18 years of age or older. Such verification and other bona fide attempts at verification must be readily available for law enforcement officers.
There are an estimated 12 million to 27 million victims of human trafficking. At least 100,000 human trafficking victims are American children whose average age is 13 years, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“We must do everything possible to prevent tragic crimes of children being trafficked, abused and sold for sex,” Bateman concluded. “I urge this legislature to move this bill immediately to save and protect our children.”