This week Stop Child Predators joined the #NeighborsFirst Coalition at an event at the National Press Club to urge the D.C. Council to pass the Short-Term Rental and Affordable Housing Act. The legislation would, SCP argues, provide crucial protections for children from sexual predators.
SCP President Stacie Rumenap spoke at the event and issued the statement below:
Hello, my name is Stacie Rumenap and I’m the President of Stop Child Predators, a nonprofit organization that combats the sexual exploitation of children and represents and protects victims nationwide. I’m here to speak today on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves, the most innocent and precious among us—our children.
Government officials, community leaders, and parents—myself included—have a duty to protect our children. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. The United States Justice Department reports that “persons under 18 years of age account for 67 percent of all sexual assault victimizations reported to law enforcement agencies.” Sixty-seven percent.
This is heart-breaking and unacceptable.
Challenges to raising children aren’t new. Every generation of parents have faced them. But the latest challenge is certainly different than most parents could have prepared for, and that’s the influx of Airbnb short-term rentals in neighborhoods.
This influx is causing a revolving door of strangers coming and going from these properties. Neighborhood safety tools like sex offender lists are becoming obsolete as there’s no safeguard in place to stop a child predator from renting an Airbnb property next door.
According to a [Minneapolis] Star-Tribune article last fall, an Airbnb guest staying at a rental in Minnetonka, Minnesota, was charged with an attempted sexual assault of a seven-year-old living in the house the family rented.
Over the last year, there have been numerous stories in cities across the country of short-term rentals being used for prostitution, drug trafficking, and out-of-control parties, which have led to violence and shootings in residential neighborhoods.
DC councilmembers have been considering—since last January—the Short-Term Rental and Affordable Housing Act, a piece of legislation that could have an enormous impact on protecting our children and neighborhoods.
Today, we’re calling on the DC City Council to enact this legislation before our city experiences the same types of incidents other cities have experienced. The D.C. City Council should stop delaying and put this legislation on the agenda and pass protections for families and children from the increasing dangers of illegal hotels operating in our residential neighborhoods.