Updated: 11/02/2013 6:07 PM
Created: 11/02/2013 2:14 PM KSTP.com
By: Katherine Johnson
"I thought this was what I was gonna be doing for the rest of my life until I was in my casket, buried," said one woman at the Fourth Annual Breaking Free Breakfast in St. Paul.
"These children are getting exploited each and every day," said Rep. Erik Paulsen.
It's a movement in Minnesota that is gaining speed on the national level.
St. Paul is setting the example to decrease the demand by arresting more than 200 men, so far this year, for exchanging sex for money. Other surrounding cities are following suit.
In January, Minneapolis police even added another investigator to its juvenile sex trafficking division, and hotels in the suburbs are on the lookout and make routine phone calls to police to report strange activity.
"When our kids are sold for sex it is a crime," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar. "It is sex trafficking. And we all know it is happening right here in Minnesota."
Sen. Klobuchar is taking Minnesota's "Safe Harbor" laws national, introducing new federal legislation that would ensure victims aren't treated as criminals and create a national registry to track the offenders.
"We have to have laws that are as sophisticated as the people who are breaking them," she said.
There are more than 27 million people around the world victimized by trafficking each year. Reports on the number of our kids in the U.S. who are sold for sex range anywhere from 1,400 to 2.4 million. In Minnesota, recent reports indicate that on any given night dozens of underage girls are sold for sex online. The average age of a child when she first becomes a victim is just 13 years old.
More than 800 people attended the fundraiser. To donate to Breaking Free, click here.