In an effort to call attention to the increasing numbers of sexually exploited children, Florida Senator Marco Rubio toured the Kristi House near Jackson Memorial Hospital on Friday.
"Because of the nature of our population, because of the size of our population we have serious problems involving the commercial exploitation of children and human trafficking on both the labor and sex trade fronts," said Rubio.
Kristi House focuses exclusively on helping child sex abuse victims.
Each year, children are brought to South Florida, often from foreign countries, then forced into prostitution. About 800 kids are served at Kristi House each year.
According to the organization, one in four girls and one in 10 boys will be sexually abused in some fashion before their 18th birthday.
Miami state representative Jeanette Nunez is sponsoring legislation focused specifically on the young victims.
"Right now they're treated as criminals. They're processed through the juvenile assessment center and these child victims of prostitution are being treated like prostitutes and that's not the case," Nunez said.
Rubio said it's important for the young victims to work with authorities.
"Obviously we want and need their cooperation in order to prosecute the evil people who have done this to them but these are also human beings who have an opportunity to turn their lives around and contribute to the well being of our country," Rubio said.
Trafficking is an old problem, that Rubio said needs a fresh approach.
"We'll do the best we can to use this platform of this United States Senate to call attention to it and I'm grateful to all of you in the media for covering this today because a lot of this battle is awareness a lot of people who will watch this broadcast tonight and your report don't even know this exists," he said.