North Carolina’s Safe Harbor bill, signed into law this summer, makes North Carolina one of only a handful of states to ensure that no minors will be prosecuted for their own sexual exploitation. Only about a dozen states have succeeded in passing similar legislation. In many instances, even where safe harbor legislation has passed, protection is curtailed in significant ways and the child can still be prosecuted. This is despite the fact that a minor is a victim of statutory rape whether or not a person pays to have sex with her.
Now that North Carolina has proven itself to be a leader is recognizing the vulnerable status of trafficked youth, the challenge remains to build strong services for these and all children who find themselves on the street due to circumstances beyond their control. Hopefully, other states will consider Safe Harbor legislation, following on the path started in New York five years ago and now continuing through North Carolina.
Learn more at Megan Annitto’s NC Spin article: N.C. sets national example by protecting young sex trafficking victims.