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Post written by Jacob Noe – “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children”

This semester I have had the pleasure of working on the Shared Hope International Project. This process involves cross-referencing the laws of each state, including the District of Columbia, to check if certain types of laws have been enacted in those jurisdictions.

I have been assigned to look for laws prohibiting commercial sexual exploitation of children. These are referred to as CSEC laws. This process has been enlightening to how common these types of laws are in this nation. What would seem like a very reasonable law that would, and should, be found in every state, is shockingly only enacted in forty states.

Laws Prohibiting the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Additionally, of these forty states, only thirty three have CSEC laws that are not limited in application and only thirty nine have CSEC laws that apply to all minors under the age of eighteen. The result of this research shows that the United States has a lot of work to do in this area to ensure that every jurisdiction has adequately CSEC laws that sufficiently protects minors.

I have also been assigned to investigate the definition of “child abuse” in the various states. Specifically, I was to determine whether each state included child sex trafficking in the definition of child abuse.

The results were concerning. Only thirty nine jurisdictions expressly include sex trafficking within the definition of abuse. Further, only thirty six jurisdictions include child sex trafficking within the definition of child abuse. Again, a law that seems like it should be found in every jurisdiction in the nation is not. There are thirteen states that need to amend their definition of child abuse to include child sex trafficking, an experience that may be the most traumatizing and abusing thing a child could go through.

While the results of this research have been concerning, there is still hope to be had. With organizations like Shared Hope, these state legislatures can be lobbied to enact more rigorous laws prohibiting these activities, so that this nation’s minors can enjoy more protection. There is still a lot of work to be done in this area, but solace can be taken in the fact that progress has been made.

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.