Too many states still inadvertently provide safe havens when it comes to sex trafficking — even when children on the streets bear the consequences, says a report by the advocacy group Shared Hope International quoted by NPR. The study grades each state on whether it has laws to protect children who are pushed into the sex trade — and to punish the adults who seek out those services. More than half of the states they examined got a D or F.
“I was absolutely shocked when we started sending people into states [posing] as sex tourists, and they would go in, and they would come into the city maybe from another country, maybe from another state, and they could buy kids so easily,” says former Republican Rep. Linda Smith of Washington, founder of Shared Hope International. Laws in Washington state and Texas are strong, Smith says, but many other states are falling down on the job. “They didn’t have trafficking laws, or if they had a trafficking law, it didn’t deal with commercial sex [ ] or didn’t distinguish between children and adults,” Smith says. She says the report, prepared with the American Center for Law and Justice, is designed to help states draft model laws to help fight trafficking. She has an important ally: the National Association of Attorneys General, which put the issue at the top of its agenda this year.