Friday, January 29, 2010

Way Too Young

So, I’ve been doing some research on teen prostitution. Did you know that the AVERAGE age of teens getting into prostitution is 14??? And that a girl on the street will be approached by a “pimp” within 48 hours of her arrival on the streets? And, that the age of girls that “johns” want is getting lower??? And, that teen prostitution crosses all socio-economic levels, all races? And, that 99% of girls who get into prostitution were sexually abused as a child? And, that law enforcement was arresting these girls, but not the pimps or johns? And, that it takes less than a week for a girl to believe she has no alternative but to stay with her “pimp”? And, that although the average age is 14, it is not unusual for 12 year olds to be picked up for prostituting? And that many of the girls who come into PH directly from the street are prostituting?

The good news? There is finally some attention being paid to the fact that these girls are VICTIMS, not criminals. Law enforcement has begun to change their philosophy on arrest of these young girls. Youth-serving agencies are becoming educated on best practice treatment for these kids and on attending to their critical needs. One of the most immediate needs of these girls is medical attention; most have some kind of STD, could be pregnant, or HIV positive.

As long as law enforcement fails to focus on the perpetrators of these girls, NO progress will be made. Unfortunately, historically, the perpetrator was the LAST to be arrested. However, I've yet to meet a girl who entered prostitution willingly. I don't think they wake up one morning and say, "Hmmm, I think I'll become a prostitute". Let's change the focus to where it will have an impact--on the perpetrators of these young women.

Don’t mean to be a downer on Friday, but these are our kids…..they are lost children. It behooves us at PH and as a community to know all we can about this issue, and embrace these teens just as we do others.

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