Law enforcement authorities have recovered 52 children and arrested 60 pimps allegedly involved in child prostitution, the FBI announced Monday. More than 690 people in all were arrested on state and local charges, the FBI stated.
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The three-day operation, tagged Operation Cross Country IV, included enforcement actions in 36 cities across 30 FBI divisions nationwide. It is part of the FBI's ongoing Innocence Lost National Initiative, which was created in 2003 with the goal of ending sex trafficking of children in the United States.
The Guardian reports that most of the children rescued from prostitution were teenage girls, but one was "just 10 years old."
To date, the 34 Innocence Lost Task Forces and Working Groups have recovered nearly 900 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 510 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including multiple 25-years-to-life sentences and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.
“It is repugnant that children in these times could be subjected to the great pain, suffering, and indignity of being forced into sexual slavery for someone else's profit,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, “but Cross Country IV has shown us that the scourge of child prostitution still exists on the streets of our cities. The FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and all the state and local law enforcement agencies that contributed to this operation are to be commended for their dedication to this cause. We will all continue to work tirelessly to end the victimization of innocent children.”
According to Shared Hope International’s report on "Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, America’s Prostituted Children [.DOC]:"
A domestic minor sex trafficking victim who is rented for sex acts with five different men per night, for five nights per week, for an average of five years, would be raped by 6,000 buyers during the course of her victimization through prostitution.
Celia Williamson, a professor of social work and a prostitution researcher at the University of Toledo [Ohio], says that in Toledo, she says, 48% of adult street prostitutes started when they were younger than 18.
Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work's Center for the Study of Youth Policy estimated in their massive 2001 study, The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children In the U. S., Canada and Mexico [.pdf], that:
- 12 to 14 is the average age of entry into prostitution for girls under 17 years old in the United States.
- 162,000 U.S. homeless youth are victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CVE) in the United States.
- 57,800 children in homes (including public housing) are estimated to be victims of CVE in the United States.
- 30% of shelter youth are victims of CVE in the United States.
- 70% of homeless youth are victims of CVE in the United States.