As part of its Faith in Action initiative, Shared Hope is mobilizing faith networks and faith communities to fight child sex trafficking and protect children. As we enter 2021, 30 Days of Prayer will coincide with Human Trafficking Awareness month. Beginning January 1 and culminating with Shared Hope’s National Day of Prayer to End Child Sex Trafficking on January 31, believers everywhere will be able to participate in prayers imploring God’s favor and relief with regard to the offense of human trafficking against all who are made in His image.
In 1998 Shared Hope International’s founders, Linda, and Vern Smith, responded to God’s call to fight for justice for all victims of sex trafficking, taking seriously Proverbs 31: 8-9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are oppressed. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
The whispered cries of survivors are seldom heard above the din, but those victims do have a voice, and Shared Hope has listened and acted on their behalf in powerful ways throughout our entire history. Multi-year initiatives are described below…but at this moment, and in this time, nothing is more powerful than the power of prayer during Human Trafficking Awareness Month. We invite all who trust in the authority and providence of the God of the Bible to join us each day in January, leading up to the National Day of Prayer, for an appeal to heaven.
Those who to participate in 30 days of prayer will receive a daily email with a focused prayer, scripture from both Old and New Testament, and action items taken from Shared Hope’s 30-Day Prayer Guide. As a body of believers, we want to draw on His word and direct our prayers to the broken world around us, to every child regardless of their circumstance, and to everyone who has suffered through sexual exploitation.
Shared Hope’s hallmark intervention on behalf of those affected by sex trafficking is to strongly motivate states to implement effective laws that ensure protective responses and justice for victims. From 2011 through 2019 Shared Hope leveraged its position as a nationally recognized leader in the fight to end domestic minor sex trafficking through the Protected Innocence Challenge–report cards grading states on the fundamental fabric of laws that address child sex trafficking. Beginning in 2021, Report Cards on Child & Youth Sex Trafficking will further motivate states to move beyond fundamentals and consider effective protection and services. It is the blueprint for the next phase in Shared Hope’s campaign for State Action. National Change. and the catalyst for stronger state legislation to protect commercially sexually exploited youth.
“When Shared Hope first issued state grades in 2011, 26 states earned failing grades. Many did not have a child sex trafficking law or make it a crime to buy sex with a child; today, just a decade later, all states have a child sex trafficking law and a legal framework for holding buyers of sex with children accountable.” said Linda Smith, founder, and president of Shared Hope. “Analyzing state laws for a decade revealed where gaps remain. Report Cards on Child & Youth Sex Trafficking addresses those gaps by shifting focus to the inadequate protections being provided to these survivors.” This showcases the look towards the future.
“We must stop the victim-blaming that prevents children from being recognized as victims and accessing needed services” said Smith. There is clearly much work to be done. Nineteen states still allow child victims to be charged with prostitution; in nineteen others the buyer can assert a defense that he did not know how old the child was; in nineteen more, buyers are not considered offenders under the child sex trafficking law.
To stay up to date on this exciting project, sign up to take action in your state to ensure victims are heard. Shared Hope’s Policy Team remains available to provide rapid technical assistance to support legislators, advocates, and state agencies; technical assistance requests can be submitted .
ABOUT SHARED HOPE INTERNATIONAL
Founded in 1998 by then U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith, Shared Hope International strives to prevent the conditions that foster sex trafficking, promote restoration for survivors of sex trafficking, and bring justice to vulnerable women and children. A non-profit Christian organization, Shared Hope engages in diverse activities that confront sex trafficking in communities throughout America. Our efforts include training churches to understand the signs of trafficking and how to protect children, and how to provide prevention education to their community. Shared Hope educates first responders, health care providers, social workers, and communities to identify warning signs of trafficking and employ intervention techniques to appropriately respond to child trafficking victims; providing restorative services to affected children and women; and offering legislative support to those focused on strengthening laws that fight child sex trafficking. Our vision is to coordinate a national U.S. network of protection to improve the response to victims of trafficking. We believe we can create a world where every survivor is surrounded by trained professionals, an alert community, just law and policy, knowledgeable service providers and appropriate shelter options.