new report card from the nonprofit Shared Hope International gives North Carolina a “D” grade among the 50 states on preventing sex trafficking. But that ranking still puts the Tar Heel State at 16th best in the nation.

North Carolina scored better than 32 other states that received an “F” grade. The top-performing states are Tennessee with an “A,” Florida with a “B,” and Minnesota, California, and Washington State each with a “C.”

The grades are based on 40 policy goals in six issue areas — ranging from criminal provisions to continuum of care for victims of sex trafficking to prevention and training efforts. States are assigned up to 2.5 points for each policy goal and then assigned letter grades based on the results.

North Carolina’s 2023 rankings by Shared Hope International.

The rankings gave NC credit for the following positive trends:

  • Between 2021 and 2023, the state raised its score by 11.5 points.
  • The state is one of 10 to raise its letter grade this year.
  • Enacted Senate Bill 626 this year, which allows more human-trafficking victims to collect compensation under the Crime Victims Compensation Act.
  • Enacted House Bill 2 this year, which eases the pathway for funds to be used to help child and youth survivors of sex trafficking.

The organization also praised North Carolina for being one of 30 states that has statutes prohibiting the criminalization of minors for prostitution.

The nationwide average score for states was 57.9 for 2023, an increase from 47.9 in 2021.

“We applaud the progress that states have made in recent years,” said Linda Smith, founder and president of Shared Hope International. “At the same time, many states continue to struggle in their legislative efforts. This creates a wild patchwork of statutes across the country, with the number and quality of legal protections and responses literally all over the map. Regardless of state of residence, no minor should be punished for their own trafficking victimization. Instead, these minors deserve critical services and care.”