New Study by Shared Hope International Reveals One of America’s Greatest Threats Is Going Dangerously Unaddressed
WASHINGTON, D.C., Child sex trafficking affects an estimated 100,000 American children each year. While many states have worked aggressively to combat the crime by strengthening state laws, several states have slipped dangerously behind the nation, according to a new study by Shared Hope International.
The Protected Innocence Challenge, a report on the state of child sex trafficking laws in the U.S., found that four years of sweeping legislative advancements allowed 42 states to raise their grade. In 2014, 37 states enacted 123 bills regarding domestic minor sex trafficking, resulting in the improvement of eight state grades. Louisiana earned the highest score in the nation, a 96 per cent.
Pennsylvania, Colorado and Delaware enacted the greatest law changes, raising two grades. View your state grade.
These improvements enable more aggressive investigation and prosecution, leaving traffickers searching for states with lower risk and greater tolerance. As neighboring states crack down, the only four remaining states with failing scores, California, Maine, Michigan and South Dakota, could become the next trafficking hotspot. Yet, the migration of trafficking activity may be more accurately linked to states with weak laws against buyers, those who fuel the trafficking industry by creating a profitable market for the crime. Two of America’s largest states, New York and California, are sorely lacking in this area and are at risk of becoming key trafficking destinations.
“While many states rose to the challenge and significantly strengthened laws to combat child sex trafficking, America’s most populous states are safety zones for predators,” Shared Hope International President and Founder Linda Smith said. “Failing to adequately address demand poses a significant threat to America’s children.”
The study found that buying sex with a minor is a felony in 50 states and in 49 states buyers could face human trafficking charges for their crime. However, many states struggle to enact laws that provide stricter penalties. California and New York are among 20 states that do not require a buyer to register as a sex offender if convicted of human trafficking. Buyers can benefit from a loophole in over 30 states that allows them to limit their liability by claiming they did not know the age of the victim.
Protected Innocence Challenge Press ConferenceWhen: 11:30 – 12:00 pm
Thursday, November 6, 2014 Where: U.S. Capitol Visitor Center | HVC-201 First St SE Washington, D.C. 20515
Watch the free livestream of the conference at sharedhope.org/events/event/2014-protected-innocence-challenge-press-conference/
- Congresswoman Linda Smith, President and Founder, Shared Hope International
- Jen Spry, RN, Sex Trafficking Survivor
- Margie Quin, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
- Savannah Sanders, Author and Training Coordinator, O’Connor House Safe Action Project, Sex Trafficking Survivor
- Delegate Timothy D. Hugo, Fairfax (VA-40)