Mandated Reporters/ SC Definition of “child abuse or neglect” to include all forms of trafficking

There have been some recent legislative changes regarding human trafficking that expand mandated reporters’ responsibilities to also include identifying and reporting suspicion of all forms of human trafficking. On April 4, 2018, Governor McMaster signed H 3701 amending the definition of child abuse and neglect to include all forms of human trafficking.

Per this new change, all mandated reporters are now required to identify and report any reasonable belief of human trafficking.

New language:

Definition of child abuse or neglect to include child trafficking

SECTION    7.    Section 63-7-20(6) of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"(6)    'Child abuse or neglect' or 'harm' occurs when:…

(b)    a child is a victim of trafficking in persons as defined in Section 16-3-2010, including sex trafficking, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare. Identifying a child as a victim of trafficking in persons does not create a presumption that the parent, guardian, or other individual responsible for the child's welfare abused, neglected, or harmed the child."


Of 123 survivors of trafficking interviewed, 44% estimated they first engaged in commercial sex when they were 17 or younger; some studies have shown that schools are a recruitment ground for trafficking. The Tri-County Task Force wants to support equipping school administration, teachers, and students to identify and appropriately respond to possible trafficking situations. 

The Comprehensive Health Education Program requires instruction on sexual abuse awareness and prevention (see SC Code 59-32-20 and 59-32-30), the amended definition of "child abuse" expands education instruction to include sex trafficking. 

Further, the SC Standards for Health and Safety Education state the following standards:

Grade 8

Standard 1: “Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health” (NHES, 2007).

  • I-8.1.3 Define human trafficking

Standard 2: “Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors” (NHES, 2007).

  • I-8.2.2 Discuss the risk factors, prevention, and support for someone who is involved in human trafficking.

High School

Standard 1: “Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health” (NHES, 2007).

  • I-HS.1.3 Discuss South Carolina laws relating to the sexual conduct of minors, including consent, criminal sexual conduct, and human trafficking.

SECTION 59-32-20. Selection or adoption of instruction units by state board required.

(A) Before August 1, 1988, the board, through the department, shall select or develop an instructional unit with separate components addressing the subjects of reproductive health education, family life education, pregnancy prevention education, and sexually transmitted diseases and make the instructional unit available to local school districts. The board, through the department, also shall make available information about other programs developed by other states upon request of a local school district.

(B) In addition to the provisions of subsection (A), before September 1, 2015, the board, through the department, shall select or develop instructional units in sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention, with separate units appropriate for each age level from four-year-old kindergarten through twelfth grade.

SECTION 59-32-30. Local school boards to implement comprehensive health education program; guidelines and restrictions.
…(G) Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, districts annually shall provide age-appropriate instruction in sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention to all students in four-year-old kindergarten, where offered, through twelfth grade. This instruction must be based on the units developed by the board, through the department, pursuant to Section 59-32-20(B).


Those who purchase commercial sex are the sole source of revenue for sex trafficking and prostitution. South Carolina has the 3rd lowest penalty in the nation for the crime of "Solicitation of Prostitution" (a fine of $200 or less; SC Code 16-15-110). Penalties have not been amended since 1986 and have fallen behind neighboring states.

Last session, a bill to increase the penalties passed the Senate unanimously and never passed the House.