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New York PINS program to now assist exploited young girls

We've written in the past about the Persons in Need of Supervision program designed to deal with children that behave in a manner considered dangerous or out-of-control. New York lawmakers have now passed legislation that would allow courts the power to refer teenage girls with prostitution offenses to the PINS program instead of placing them in jail.

This legislation is a part of a series of bills designed to prevent exploitation of minors through human trafficking. The bill is also designed to provide training for judges that oversee prostitution cases involving minors. "By treating them as PINS we are acknowledging that they are victims, not perpetrators," stated Assemblywoman Amy Paulin.

The PINS program is tied up with the family law court system. It's often been used to make determinations whether a child needs guidance for offenses such as underage drinking or truancy. The new legislation also provides resources concerning social services, mental health counseling and preventive services.

The new provision will presumably allow teenagers a chance to return to a normal life and rejoin society. Hopefully it will also help children be reunited with family members in certain circumstances as well if this would truly benefit the child's interests. Prior to this legislation being passed, children would instead be held criminally responsible for being exploited.

From the perspective of family law attorneys, we need to keep the best interests of the child at heart anytime a matter arises that involves a young person. There are certain circumstances that parents are unable to take care of their children. Either through guardianship or through the PINS program, attorneys can make certain that placement of the child is appropriate for their individual circumstances.

Source: Legislative Gazette, "Young prostitutes get help, not jail, under new law," Kelly Fay, Jan. 21, 2014