Hi! My name is Anna and I’m a 3L who is in my fourth semester working with the Center for Global Justice. For the last year and a half, I have been working on projects for Shared Hope International. These projects support Shared Hope on combating child sex trafficking in the United States and reforming state laws to better protect child victims.
The project I am working on now focuses on juvenile justice laws, and the ways that “abuse and neglect statutes” do (or do not!) protect children, especially children who have been sexually trafficked.
In my research of various state laws it has been surprising to learn that there are child protective statutes out there that in fact do not protect children. (As a side note, I do believe that the intent of the statute writers is to protect children, but legislators do not always anticipate some of the situations abused and neglected children are found in).
For example, some state statutes addressing abuse and neglect only provide for the definition of “abuse” being met, and therefore triggering the jurisdiction of Child Protective Services, when the abuse been perpetrated by a family member–or at least someone residing in the same home as the child. Accordingly, when the “abuse” occurs by other people, e.g., a trafficker, Child Protective Services is legally blocked or barred from providing services to child trafficking victims.
As we become more cognizant of situations taking place in the modern era, we must update our laws so that they continue to provide adequate support and protection for our youth. I am thankful to be assisting Shared Hope is this much needed work!