On November 17, Shared Hope International will release the Reports Cards on Child & Youth Sex Trafficking. In my previous post, I mentioned my involvement with Share Hope’s “Report Card” project. These new report cards will apply an advanced legislative framework, expanding the focus of these reports cards from criminal laws to ensuring that trauma-informed protections are in place for victims of trafficking. Since 2010, the Report Card project has put a quantifiable view on Shared Hope’s direct efforts. The image below shows the nation’s improvement in passing statutory legislation that protects victims of human trafficking.
As the 2021 fall semester comes to a close, I would like to remark that working alongside the Center for Global Justice and Shared Hope was a privilege and honor. The Center provides a unique experience to develop the skills attained in law school while helping those in need and protecting the community for future generations. Psalms 82:3 states, “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” This verse captures the mission of what Christian lawyers should strive for, to help those who cannot protect themselves. “Rehabilitation” comes to mind when I reflect on my time at the Center for Global Justice working on a project with Shared Hope.
Thomas Aquinas, Cicero, and the American founders had a common understanding of the Natural and Divine Law, a consistent appreciation of what law is and its purpose. Whether if it’s innocent children in the womb, the poor, the elderly, or the infirm, every human person bears the image of God and shall be received as a gift and not used as an object or disposed of or no longer wanted.
I believe that there is much to be done for victims of human trafficking, and organizations such as Shared Hope lead the way in providing that need. Current state legislatures have outmoded concepts that require action about the liability of children’s abusers for their sex trafficking while passing legal protections for their victims. Shared Hope’s extensive research shows that children who engage in commercial sex do so to survive or because a trafficker reaps a direct and substantial benefit from the child’s victimization. The criminal justice system requires tools to protect children from the damaging life of human trafficking. Treating children as criminal offenders, particularly as “prostitutes,” is traumatizing, but so is allowing traffickers to abuse the current statutory laws on decriminalization.
The juvenile system should orient towards rehabilitating children victims before they become adult offenders. This encounter is a crucial step in rehabilitating victims of human trafficking. The goal for statutory law should help children change their lives and move away from destructive behavior and environments that lead to it. The juvenile system requires a protective response for children abused through commercial sexual exploitation while enabling law enforcement to find traffickers to prevent future sexual exploitation of children effectively.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.