My name is Beth Klein. I am a human rights attorney. I was appointed by the Governor as a member of the Board of the Colorado Children’s Trust Fund – which was established to prevent the abuse and neglect of Colorado children before it occurs, and a former Trustee of Erie. I have advised over 30 states and multiple nations on effective human trafficking law. Today, I come before the Board in my individual capacity as a Mom, a resident of this Town and a co-founder of the Klein Frank Foundation.
We are here today because we want to end human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children known as C-SEC.
I became aware of serious child abuse cases in Erie that had the markers of CSEC. I have brought with me, Amber McDonald. Ms. McDonald is a director at Blue Sky Bridge, a facility which cares for children who have been victims. She is a forensic interviewer who has in depth knowledge of the cases and the issue. I have asked her to come and further inform you. When I called the members of the Board upon learning of this issue from Ms. McDonald, I was very pleased at the swiftness of your response.
Human trafficking takes many forms. One - is the prostitution of children by parents and care givers on line. Ms. McDonald can provide detail on the population of Erie’s children and risk for this exploitation.
I can advise you that as of 2011, the rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect in Colorado is 8.6 kids per 1000. This ranks Colorado 25 of 50 states. In Colorado rural counties have had sustained high levels child abuse and neglect. Five counties in the northeastern quadrant of the state, have had average rates of child abuse that are 2.5 to 3 times the state average since 2002.
We cannot continue business as usual.
If we are successful working together, we will not be able to see one child advertised on line, walking the street or waiting for a client in a hotel. We will be able to keep our kids safe and out of the life .
We must collaborate more, communicate better, and use our resources wisely and effectively throughout this state – leaving no community out. We must connect Erie law enforcement to the Innocence Lost Task Force, a joint effort between the DPD and the FBI. We need to ensure that all employees of this Town and school officials and teachers in this community are trained to recognize the signs and have the systems and the support to help these kids.
My Foundation is prepared to provide grants so that the trainings and the communication can begin. We want Erie to succeed and be an example to other towns and cities.
But, we need the support of this leadership to get this done.
I request that the Board consider a resolution that will set a goal of training all of Erie’s employees by a date certain. If the Town accomplishes this, it will be the first community in Colorado mobilize this way.
It’s no secret that we can’t continue business as usual. Every day, we lose a child. Every day more money fuels this crime. We have to act, we have to act now, and we have to come together as the Colorado team.
And today, I hope that we will be able to come together to do exactly that. I’d like to start right here and right now.
Thank you and – proceed with questions or hear from Ms. McDonald.