Child sex trafficking is the only sex abuse crime where an adult man can rape a child and the child is the one arrested. It’s well documented that the child often sits behind bars while those responsible for the abuse walk free. It is time that we take responsibility for the legislative gaps and systemic failures within our communities that allow child victims to continue to fall through the cracks. How do you think your state would rank if their efforts in preventing, investigating and responding to child sex trafficking were graded? Well get ready because Shared Hope International is doing just that – grading states based on a holistic legislative strategy to promote “zero tolerance for child sex trafficking.” Today Shared Hope is launching the Protected Innocence Initiative, which aims to apply a 40-point legislative framework to each state’s current laws which holistically evaluates the existing structures in place that create safe environments for children. The 40-point legislative framework is based on years of field research, interviews with survivors, over 400 interviews with professionals working in the field, and a top-notch vetting committee. The Protected Innocence Legislative Framework includes the following categories:
- Criminalization of domestic minor sex trafficking
- Criminal provisions for demand (buyers)
- Criminal provisions for traffickers (pimps)
- Criminal provisions for facilitators (hotels, transports, websites, etc.)
- Protective provisions for the child victims
- Criminal justice tools for investigation and prosecutions
The Report Card is premised on the belief that the true measure of a state’s standing is how well it protects its children and provides them with access to justice. We know that at least 100,000 American children every year are victimized through sex trafficking. At the young age of 13, their bodies are converted to cash and their innocence is sold by the minute.
Shared Hope is exposing the legislative gaps within each state that leave children vulnerable to traffickers and fail to provide the cornerstone of strong law to victim advocates, prosecutors and law enforcement so they can ensure protection for the victims and punishment for the criminals who exploit them.
On Tuesday, January 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Shared Hope will release the first state Report Card – Washington State. The Oregon State Report Card will follow on January 14. Every few weeks a new Report Card will be released … is your state ready? Join me in telling the Governor in your state that strengthening laws to protect children is the priority for 2011. This issue is urgent. Let’s make 2011 the year to end child sex trafficking!