Child sexual exploitation up in Florida year to year

State: DCF is not doing enough to identify victims
Posted at 6:58 PM, Jul 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-24 18:58:35-04

According to a new state report from OPAGGA, the number of sexually exploited children in Florida is on the rise.

356 cases were reported in 2016, which is 92 more cases from 2015.
15 cases were reported in Pinellas county, 36 in Hillsborough, and 15 in Polk.
Hillsborough County ranks fourth state wide.
Locally, the victims have been as young as 10 years old. 91 percent of them were between the ages of 14 and 17. 93 percent were girls.
The suspects range from a soccer coach to a University of Tampa professor.
The report says the increase could be due to an increase in awareness and more people reporting the crimes,
but it also points fingers at DCF for how it screens potential victims, saying the agency's methods may
"limit accurate identification."
The report also points out that children living with family can be just as vulnerable to traffickers as those in foster care.
A new law that goes into effect in October will require the Department of Children and Families to maintain data on all sexually exploited children, not just those already in system. And it requires a sheriff’s office to follow-up with the victims to make sure they're okay.