Updated: Dec 13, 2022
Have you ever received an assignment back from a teacher and the dreaded red F at the top of the page confirmed your fears? You failed the assignment. You might have even hidden the graded paper at the bottom of your backpack, not wanting anyone to see the failure circled front and center. It can feel demoralizing to fail something, but it’s also an opportunity to improve.
Did you know that each state gets a report card on how well they are addressing child sex trafficking? Shared Hope International started grading each state in 2011. In 2021, they changed their grading criteria to look at victim protection. They focus on the legislative framework in each state and, “now, the…grading scale focuses 75% on how states protect survivors of child and youth sex trafficking, including through the development and funding of Safe Harbor laws, an evidence-based and victim-centered approach to justice”. (sharedhope.org)
So how did Missouri fair in the report card? We received an F for the second year in a row (it should be noted that many other states also received failing grades, showing the vast room for improvement nationally). The areas that scored the lowest were identification of and response to victims, access to justice for trafficking survivors, and prevention and training.
For anyone who has worked in the anti-trafficking realm in Missouri will likely not be shocked that we have gaps in our responses and systems. Most states struggle to form unified responses, implement evidence-based care, or provide accurate education to the many systems and people that encounter trafficking victims and survivors.
So, how do we improve our grade, and more importantly, our response to trafficking victims? A great start is getting evidence-based education into schools, healthcare systems, police departments, child protective services, prosecutors’ and judges offices, and into advocacy groups.
We also need legislation that promotes human trafficking education, proper identification, and services for victims of trafficking. Contacting our state’s law makers about these issues is a huge way to improve our state’s response.
For more information on the report cards check out- https://reportcards.sharedhope.org/year2022/missouri/
And for more resources on education, laws, and effective responses, contact REHOPE at https://www.rehope.org/