Children forced into sex need more help

Dec. 1, 2011 at 4:57 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Most U.S. states have failed to create the legal framework needed to protect children from sexual exploitation, an advocacy group said Thursday.

Shared Hope International released the "National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking." It graded states on the quality of their laws, giving mostly D's and F's.

The group collaborated with the American Center for Law and Justice on the report.

States need laws that will reduce demand for young prostitutes, provide training for law enforcement in identifying them and create services to help them, the report said. The laws must also guarantee that young "sex workers" are treated as victims, the group said.

Former U.S. Rep. Linda Smith, R-Wash., who heads Shared Hope, told National Public Radio only a few states, including Texas and Washington, have strong laws, and even those are not perfect. She said others did nothing to protect children forced into commercial sex.

"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," she said.

The report is designed to help states draft new laws. The National Association of Attorneys General has put child sex trafficking on its agenda this year.

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