40 states receive failing grade on fighting child sex trafficking, report

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Forty of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. were given a failing grade in their response to child and youth sex trafficking, according to a report by the nonprofit Shared Hope International.

According to the report, Alaska is the lowest-ranked state, while Florida is the top-ranked, with an overall grade of C and a score of 72.5 out of a possible 110 points.

States are scored on six different policy issues and given “extra credit” for extending certain protective policies to youth aged 18 to 24 and child labor trafficking victims.

The six issues are:

1. Criminal provisions: “Clear criminal laws, including those that criminalize buyers of sex with children, are needed to ensure all sex trafficking offenders can be held accountable.”

2. Identification of and response to victims: “States’ laws must identify all commercially sexually exploited children as victims of trafficking and provide for a protective, rather than punitive, response.”

3. Continuum of care: “To break the cycle of exploitation, state laws must provide victims access to funded, trauma-informed services.”

4. Access to justice for trafficking survivors: “A range of civil and criminal justice remedies must be available for victims under the law.”

5. Tools for a victim-centered criminal justice response: “Criminal justice procedures for the benefit and protection of victims must be provided under the law.”

6. Prevention and training: “To help prevent trafficking and promote more just responses to child sex trafficking victims, training for child welfare, juvenile justice agencies, law enforcement, prosecutors, and school personnel as well as prevention education for students, must be required by law.”

The 10 states with the highest scores are Florida, Texas, Mississippi, California, Washington, Colorado, Kentucky, Utah, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Besides Florida, the rest of the top 10 states were given a grade of D, with state no. 11, Minnesota, being the only other one with a D grade.

Vermont was the highest-scored state with a failing grade. The state’s overall score was 37.5, with six out of 17.5 for criminal provisions, 14.5 out of 27.5 for identification of and response to victims, 4.5 out of 15 for continuum of care, 8.5 out of 15 for access to justice for trafficking survivors, one out of 10 for tools for a victim-centered criminal justice response, a score of zero out of 15 for prevention and training, two extra credit points for extending certain protective policies to youth aged 18 to 24, and another extra credit point for extending certain protective policies to child labor trafficking victims.

Alaska was the lowest-ranked state with an overall score of 22.5, given a 4.5 out of 17.5 for criminal provisions, 3.5 out of 27.5 for identification of and response to victims, one out of 15 for continuum of care, 8.5 out of 15 for access to justice for trafficking survivors, zero out of 10 for tools for a victim-centered criminal justice response, a score of zero out of 15 for prevention and training, two extra credit points for extending certain protective policies to youth aged 18 to 24, and three extra credit points for extending certain protective policies to child labor trafficking victims.



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