A bill making its way through the North Carolina legislature would require anyone convicted of human trafficking to register as a sex offender.
Jillian Mourning and Antonia "Neet" Childs were both lured into sex trafficking as teens and managed to get out. Both women turned the traumatic experiences into opportunities to help other victims and survivors.
Mourning started All We Want is L.O.V.E., which stands for Liberation Of Victims Everywhere. The nonprofit helps raise awareness about human trafficking through community programs, training and outreach.
"It's a responsibility, but it's amazing to say, 'Hey, I don't judge you.' I know what this is like and I can also educate you on how to get through it,” Mourning said.
Childs took her mission to fight sexual exploitation and trafficking to the kitchen, opening her own bakery, Neet's Sweets, where she employs women and connects survivors with support resources.
Childs just moved into a new location on Park Road and hopes to expand her reach through a collaborating with another bakery, Wow Factor Cakes.
"It's a beautiful feeling to be able to motivate women through business and teaching them a trade through baking,” Childs said.
According to experts, nationally a person is trafficked for sex every 30 seconds. Charlotte's proximity to major highways has made it a growing hotbed for trafficking.
State lawmakers have introduced a bill designed to add another level of protection from those found guilty of these crimes. If passed, Senate Bill 122 would require anyone convicted of the human trafficking to register as a sex offender -- if the crime is committed against anyone under 18 or if the crime is against anyone with the intent of holding them in sexual servitude. If passed, it would go into effect at the end of the year.
"It's necessary because let's not forget, the average age for entry into prostitution is 12 years old," said Childs.
Mourning said, "Traffickers prey on these minors with the intention of making them perform sexual services most of the time. So they should be coupled together, they should be one in the same."
Channel 9 also learned about another local effort to help trafficking victims. Asheville-based On Eagles Wings Ministries is collecting donations of cash and supplies to open a "Hope House" for minors in Charlotte this summer. It will offer long term resources and support for victims of sex trafficking.