Protect, not arrest
Our sincere thanks to The News & Observer for printing the column “Kids caught in human trafficking are not criminals” on Feb. 2.
North Carolina does have a Human Trafficking Statute that clearly identifies minors involved in the commercial sex industry as victims of sexual servitude or sex trafficking. Unfortunately, the N.C. Prostitution Statute does not exclude minors from the definition of prostitution, so minors are being arrested for prostitution.
As leaders of anti-human-trafficking organizations in North Carolina, we are asking residents to contact their legislators to encourage them to resolve this conflict and to make North Carolina a safe harbor for minors who are victims of sex trafficking.
North Carolina is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 states where human trafficking is occurring. Our state has received a grade of “D” from the Protected Innocence Challenge, a comprehensive study on existing state human-trafficking laws. Let’s change that. Let’s put North Carolina in the top 10 states for protecting children from sex trafficking. Contact your legislators and let them know that in North Carolina, we expect children to be protected, not arrested.
Pam Strickland, Founder, Eastern N.C. Stop Human Trafficking Now, Farmville
This letter was endorsed by the leader of five other anti-trafficking groups in North Carolina.