Pennsylvania State Capitol

The state Capitol in Harrisburg.

HARRISBURG — A Pennsylvania law that prevents authorities from filing criminal charges against child victims of human trafficking for the crimes they are compelled to commit is going into effect.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed legislation that also requires police to contact the state Human Services Department whenever they encounter a child who has been sexually exploited.

The bill's main sponsor, Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, says the bill aims to prevent sexually exploited or trafficked children, who may not even think of themselves as victims, from being charged with prostitution, drug trafficking or other crimes.

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The bill requires Human Services to establish ways to provide victims with homes, schooling, training and counseling.

Greenleaf's office says more than 270 human trafficking cases have been reported in the state since 2016.

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