Child Trafficking Bill Speeding Through Florida Legislature

Child Trafficking Bill Speeding Through Florida Legislature

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
February 28, 2024

Senator Jonathan Martin’s (R-33) proposed law on ‘lewd & lascivious’ grooming has received unanimous support within committees in the Florida Senate and will now head for a floor vote. 

‘Lewd & Lascivious’ grooming refers to behavior where an adult attempts to entice a minor into illegal sexual behavior or to exploit the minor for human trafficking purposes. 

Representative Michael Yarkosky (R-25) sponsored the House version of the bill, which similarly passed through all of its respective committees. 

If the legislation is passed, Florida will become the first US state to codify a statutory criminal definition and punitive component for ‘lewd & lascivious’ grooming.

Representative Yarkosky expressed his enthusiasm for “creat(ing) these safeguards to further protect our children from the pure evil of child sex crimes.”

Yarkosky claimed how, combined with the capital punishment law passed last year, Governor Ron DeSantis’ is poised to “create the “bookends” in Florida for those committing sex crimes against our children: from grooming a child under 16 to raping a child under 12 yrs!”

Last May, Governor DeSantis signed legislation allowing for capital punishment to be assigned to child rapists. 

The bill received unanimous support and lowered the vote requirement for a jury’s capital punishment decision from unanimous agreement to an 8-4 vote. 

However, despite Florida’s expanded criminalization of child abuse, instances of minor exploitation have been reportedly increasing across the nation. 

As reported by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres, the US national and state governments have failed to prevent numerous cases of online sexual predation. 

Manjarres reported how, at the James Madison Institute’s annual “Florida Tech and Innovation Summit,” the problem of online sexual predation of minors was widely discussed. 

According to Net Choice Director of Public Affairs, Robert Winterton, a “greater conversation to keep kids safe online is needed,” and the government needed to step up and address the lack of adequate funding and “lack of law enforcement” that has hamstrung the efforts to address the online child predator problem.

Sal Nuzzo, The James Madison Institutes Vice President in Florida, believes that keeping kids safe begins at home and that it is important for those parents to have the “appropriate tools” available to them to help them keep their children safe from online predators.

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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