Jordan Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A child involved in prostitution would be protected from prosecution and referred to state family services under a bill approved by Utah lawmakers.

HB254 provides that a child would not face a delinquency charge unless police have referred the child to the Division of Child and Family Services at least once before for alleged prostitution or sexual solicitation. It also allows victims to sue human traffickers and collect up to three times the cost of damages.

The goal is to protect children and get them the help they need, according to Rep. Jen Seelig, D-Salt Lake City, the bill's sponsor.

The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously. It now goes to the governor for consideration.