BENSON, Minn. - Minnesota lawmakers are being asked to provide more support for sexually-exploited children, specifically housing that is an alternative to juvenile detention.
One such place is the Heartland Girls' Ranch in Benson. It provides safe refuge for girls who have been abused or neglected. In recent years, more young victims of sex trafficking are being sent to the ranch.
Minnesota Public Radio News says girls ages 12 to 18 spend an average of eight or nine months at the ranch and attend classes in a special wing at Benson High School. Counties pay $169 a day for each girl sent to the ranch. Some of the most therapeutic healing comes from working with the horses on the ranch.
The state passed a law in 2011 that says children age 16 years and younger engaged in prostitution are victims, not delinquents.
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