New study looks at child sex trafficking in America

Texas ranks among top states for enforcing sex trafficking laws

SAN ANTONIO - Stacy Lewis knows firsthand about child sex trafficking.

She's now an advocate for child sex trafficking laws, but 10 years ago, she was a victim, forced into prostitution by strangers who tracked her down in her neighborhood.

"They had followed me for quite some time and knew my pattern so they knew where I lived and threatened my family if I did not go," she said. "When I was told they knew what street I lived on and had a child, it felt more real to me than ever before."

Lewis now helps other through Shared Hope International. The group analyzes and pushes for strengthening of sex trade laws.

According to the group, more than 100,000 minors are used in prostitution every year in America, and they estimate that's just a percentage of the children that are abused as a result sex trafficking crimes

Samantha Vardaman, senior director with Shared Hope International, said, "These are not foreign children, these are U.S. citizen, lawful U.S. residents."

The group released a new study, which shows how Texas ranks in the nation when it comes to child sex trafficking laws.

The researched was conducted by Shared Hope International and released at a national press conference in San Antonio on Thursday morning. The study grades states based on sex trafficking laws, treatment of victims and prosecution of offenders.

The Protected Innocence Initiative ranked Texas among top four states with a B grade, along with Illinois, Missouri and Washington. However, 41 states received Ds and Fs. The report card shows where changes need to be made.

Vardaman said, "Primarily what it's intended to do is be a tool for legislators and advocates to look at where the weak links are in the legislative framework."

This is the first time this study has been officially conducted.

Not one state received an A grade this time around.

Lewis hopes the study will bring awareness and help others from going through what she endured.

"It will bring justice overall," she said. "For me it's been 10 years and at this time now, I'm helping other survivors to know they're not alone that they can tell their stories."


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