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Navajo Nation Steps Up to Fight Child Trafficking

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Child SlaveryHuman TraffickingLaw & Policy

The Navajo Nation has approved legislation to protect Navajo children against human trafficking.

On Nov. 19, the Health, Education, and Human Services Committee (HEHSC) voted 4-0 to approve legislation that now amends the Navajo Nation Department of Family Services’ 2018 Title IV-E Guidelines and Handbook.

Specifically, the Navajo Nation Department of Family Services developed and submitted a protocol for human trafficking of children as a new section in the Title IV-E Guidelines and Handbook.

The Navajo-Hopi Observer reports:

HEHSC member and legislation sponsor Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty said since the Navajo Nation Law Against Human Trafficking of 2017 was passed, it has brought to light several disturbing cases of child sex trafficking taking place, but were misclassified as child sexual abuse cases.

“Human trafficking on Navajo Nation is not a new concept as we were trained in this new area and the many dynamic pieces we are putting together. It was heartbreaking to learn that some of our children are being trafficked by their own family or friends, so the intent of this legislation is to help protect Navajo children who may be victims of human trafficking,” Crotty said.

Crotty said the Navajo Nation Department of Family Services has identified systemic gaps in the Nation’s overall response to human trafficking, particularly the public’s lack of knowledge on human trafficking, first responders have not been trained on trauma-informed care for victims of trafficking, lack of resources for safety and mental health care and the lack of a comprehensive policy reform within all three branches of the Navajo Nation to combat human trafficking.

HEHSC member Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown welcomed the move by the Navajo Nation as he is working on a Navajo Nation Human White Paper and advocates for training on trafficking for public officials.

“I would like my colleagues to be involved in this conversation. This is where we need your continued support and to understand that this is happening on the Navajo Nation,” said Brown.

“We work closely with the Navajo Nation Police Department and Criminal Investigations, as well as our federal partners. At that level, there is still a lack of training. We need to continuously to look at our children who might be falling through the cracks.”

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