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Senate Bill 14 takes effect as law to prevent child sex trafficking

Sex trafficking survivor shares her testimony to help get SB 14 passed
Posted at 11:08 AM, Jan 25, 2024
  • Video shows street where Odessa Perkins was trafficking, Perkins giving her testimony, and SB 14 explainers
  • Odessa Perkins was trafficked for the first time in 8th grade. Following her experience she helped advocate for SB 14 to prevent traffickers from taking advantage of other kids.

Senator Shannon Grove introduced Senate Bill 14 to increase the penalties for people found guilty of human trafficking.
It’s a bill now passed as law to help keep victims off the streets.

Odessa Perkins remembers walking with her mom down the street from Bakersfield High School.

“My mom told me I was helping the family,” Perkins said.

Together, they waited here for her trafficker, and when the man arrived, Perkins’ mother exchanged her daughter for drugs.

“He took me to a hotel and did whatever it was he wanted to do to me and had me doing different things to him.”

She was in junior high at the time.

“I was told that I would be nothing more than a mattress for men to lay on,” Perkins said.

It’s stories like this, Senator Shannon Grove hoped to prevent when she introduced Senate Bill 14, a piece of legislation with hopes to protect the innocence in our community’s kids.

SB 14 would classify child sex trafficking as a serious felony and would increase the penalties for repeat offenders

To push the bill forward, Perkins shared her story to help make the bill a law.

“Dear Senator, I am before you today as a survivor of human trafficking,” she told the legislators.

“It was mind boggling me to experience politics on that level for the very first time,” Perkins recalled.

The bill originally began as SB 1042, but it was denied in April 2022.

“What do you think that feels like to a victim when you have lifelong trauma. You have constant PTSD and complex PTSD, and yet your trafficker, the man who beat you and reaped you repeatedly and set you up on these dates, he’s given a slap on the wrist,” Dr. Angela Look, social supervisor with Child Protective Services said.

Perkins and Senator Grove returned with SB 14, and the bill took effect as law on January 1st, 2024.

Look adds the new law helps bring justice to the survivors.

“I want to thank my younger self, that little girl, for becoming a warrior that I didn’t know that I needed," Perkins said at the signing. "I give her permission now to rest.”

In a statement Grove says, "This new law sends a clear message to traffickers that we are not going to stand by and allow children to be exploited. If you sell a child for sex you are going to prison for a very long time, where you can no longer commit this horrific crime."

She held a press conference on Thursday to mark the month as human trafficking awareness month.

After years of counseling and ongoing healing, Perkins says she’s a survivor continuing to use her story to help others who’ve shared her experience.

“I’m here for you," Perkins tells other survivors. "You’re gonna get through it. You’re gonna walk through it. You’re gonna come out on the other side.”

If you suspect you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, you can report it at the numbers listed below.

  • Kern County Child Abuse Hotline: (661) 631-6011
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security: (866) DHS-2423
  • National Human Trafficking Hotline: (888) 373-7888
  • Text HELP to BeFree (233733)
  • For all emergencies call 911

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