BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- iEmpathize (a non-profit dedicated to eradicating child exploitation) announces the release of a new state-by-state report reviewing legislatively enacted provisions that prioritize exploitation prevention education for youth. As Sarah Godoy, Research Associate at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior has pointed out, "The School district is the last point of contact before you can really lose at-risk populations." Focusing on measures states have enacted to ensure youth have access to prevention education through public schools, this report reveals that only 4 of the 50 states qualify for Tier I ranking.
iEmpathize conducted a quantitative examination of existing and pending child exploitation prevention education legislation from all fifty states to determine each state's relevant provisions. Each statute was coded for six elements reflecting important dimensions of trafficking legislation. Those elements were selected based upon recommendations culled from a literature review on exploitation, trafficking, and prevention.
The range of possible scores is 0 (a state having none of the elements) to 6.5 (the state having all elements to the fullest extent possible). States were placed into a tier based on a total score, Tier III being 0.0 to 2.0, Tier II being 2.5 to 4.0, and Tier I being 4.5 to 6.5 points.
"Sex trafficking is perhaps the worst exploitation a child can experience and virtually every community in the U.S. has youth who are at-risk or already experiencing it," says iEmpathize Education Director, Candace Joice. "There is essentially universal agreement that prevention is just as fundamental to solving the problem as focusing on intervention, prosecution, and survivor restoration. However, we have a long way to go to actually elevate prevention at the same level as those latter approaches, particularly concerning youth education. We generated this report to help stimulate the conversation. What are states doing that is already working? How can states improve?"
iEmpathize provides numerous prevention services, from training for adult professionals who work with youth, to an exploitation prevention resource, The Empower Youth Program. The Empower Youth Program is a media-based curriculum centering on stories of resilient young people who share safety strategies. The program empowers youth aged 12 and up to navigate vulnerabilities in their lives in order to remain safe from a wide range of exploitation, from bullying to sex trafficking. It includes a five-part package of short films, activities, and discussion questions to equip those working with youth to facilitate prevention-focused strategies youth can apply in their daily lives.
"The issue of exploitation in America is a present reality for so many of our nation's youth," said Joice. "We need to educate them about prevention before another child needlessly suffers."
Terell McConnell, iEmpathize