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Shared Hope International: Most States in the U.S. Failing to Protect Children from Trafficking

Fri December 02 2011 8:57 am
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Most of America’s states are failing in their ability to protect children being trafficked for sex, according to a report released Thursday.


More than 50% of the nation’s states do not have laws that provide protection and justice to child victims of domestic minor sex trafficking, according to research released Dec. 1, 2011 by Shared Hope International.

Only 10 states received grades higher than a “C” under the Protected Innocence Initiative, the first comprehensive analysis of state legislative frameworks relating specifically to domestic minor sex trafficking. Four states—Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Washington—led the nation with “B” grades. Forty‐one (41) states received grades of “D” or lower, including 26 failing grades.

Darker blue means worse grade: Light Blue, B; Royal Blue, C; Steel Blue, D; and Midnight Blue, F.

“Each state’s laws show omissions in protective provisions for child victims, and lack strong laws to prosecute the men who rent the bodies of other men’s children,” said Linda Smith, Founder and President of Shared Hope International. “Early in our research it was clear that responses to child sex trafficking must originate at the state level. The Protected Innocence Initiative establishes the essential legislative framework that attempts to harmonize the state’s response to the treatment of prostituted children and emphasize the appropriate prosecution of the buyer.”

Alabama - D           Louisiana - C           Ohio - D

Alaska - F            Maine - F               Oklahoma - D

Arizona - C           Maryland - F            Oregon - D

Arkansas - F          Massachusetts - F       Pennsylvania - F

California - F        Michigan - F            Rhode Island - D

Colorado - F          Minnesota - C           South Carolina - F

Connecticut - F       Mississippi - D         South Dakota - F

Deleware - D          Missouri - B            Tennessee - C

Florida - C           Montana - F             Texas - B

Georgia - C           Nebraska - F            Utah - F

Hawaii - F            Nevada - F              Vermont - D

Idaho - F             New Hampshire - F       Virginia - F

Illinois - B          New Jersey - D          Washington - B

Indiana - D           New Mexico - F          Washington D.C. - F

Iowa - D              New York - D            West Virginia - F

Kansas - F            North Carolina - D      Wisconsin - D

Kentucky - D          North Dakota - F        Wyoming - F

SOURCE: Shared Hope International

• Four states do not have human trafficking laws:
o West Virginia, Maine, Wyoming, Virginia
• 10 states do not have sex trafficking laws:
o Colorado, Hawaii, West Virginia, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Wyoming, Virginia
• Only four states have a full package of non‐punitive child protective responses, including shelter and services:
o Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Washington
• 19 states still have no commercial sexual exploitation of children law that makes it a crime to buy sex acts with a minor.
• Five states have no law making it a crime to use the Internet to purchase or sell sex acts with a minor:
o District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Wyoming
• Recent cases coming out of many states reflect growing confidence in using state human trafficking laws to prosecute traffickers and buyers.
• Developments in laws will be reflected in Protected Innocence Initiative 2012, and we expect to see significant grade advances.

Shared Hope International was founded in 1998, by former U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith, and exists to rescue and restore women and children in crisis. Shared Hope International are leaders in a worldwide effort to prevent and eradicate sex trafficking and slavery using a three‐pronged strategy: prevent, rescue & restore, and bring justice.

While Illinois received a high grade relative to other states, Bill O’Reilly of The O’Reilly Factor points out that the states of Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, New Jersey and Vermont have refused to pass a Jessica’s Law in their respective state legislatures. John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted and Bill O’Reilly of The O’Reilly Factor have been vocal proponents of Jessica’s Law, the informal name given to a 2005 Florida law, as well as laws in several other states, designed to punish sex offenders and reduce their ability to re-offend. A version of Jessica’s Law, known as the Jessica Lunsford Act, was introduced at the federal level in 2005 but was never enacted into law by Congress.

Forty-two states have introduced Jessica’s Law legislation since Florida’s law was passed the law in 2005. The law is named after Jessica Lunsford, a young Florida girl who was raped and murdered in February 2005 by John Couey, a previously convicted sex offender. Jessica’s Law has provisions for a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and lifetime electronic monitoring of adults convicted of lewd or lascivious acts against a victim less than 12 years old. In Florida, sexual battery or rape of a child less than twelve years old is punishable by life imprisonment with no chance of parole. The State of Florida received a lower grade of ‘C’ from Shared Hope International because shelter of minor victims was deficient. Also sex trafficking law can only be applied only if the offender had knowledge that force was used against the minor to cause the minor to engage in prostitution. According to the recent report of Share Hope International, no laws in Florida address sex tourism.

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