• Nearly half of the kids — about 45 percent — were boys.

• Only 10 percent were involved with a "market facilitator" (e.g., a pimp).

• About 45 percent got into the "business" through friends.

"It was almost like nobody wants to document their existence": Georgia State University criminologist Mary Finn's research effort in Atlanta was thwarted by uncooperative advocacy groups, incomplete arrest data and an utter lack of shelter beds for juveniles in crisis.
Caleb Ferguson
"It was almost like nobody wants to document their existence": Georgia State University criminologist Mary Finn's research effort in Atlanta was thwarted by uncooperative advocacy groups, incomplete arrest data and an utter lack of shelter beds for juveniles in crisis.
Jennifer Bryan of the Center for Court Innovation is helping to expand the John Jay College study nationwide using the same methodology, which has generated reliable census data on a vast range of subcultures, from drug addicts to jazz musicians.
Caleb Ferguson
Jennifer Bryan of the Center for Court Innovation is helping to expand the John Jay College study nationwide using the same methodology, which has generated reliable census data on a vast range of subcultures, from drug addicts to jazz musicians.

Details

EDITOR'S NOTE: Village Voice Media, which owns this publication, owns the classified site Backpage.com. In addition to used cars, jobs and couches, readers can also find adult ads on Backpage; for this reason, certain activists and clergy members have called attention to the site, sometimes going so far as to call for its closure.

Certainly we have a stake in this discussion. And we do not object to those who suggest an apparent conflict of interest. We sat quietly and did not respond as activists held symposiums across America—from Seattle to Miami—denouncing Backpage. Indeed, we were never asked for response.

But then we looked at the "science" behind many of these activists' claims, and the media's willingness, without question, to regurgitate a litany of incredible statistics. In the interest of a more informed discussion, we decided to write.

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• More than 90 percent were U.S.- born (56 percent were New York City natives).

• On average, they started hooking at age fifteen.

• Most serviced men — preferably white and wealthy.

• Most deals were struck on the street.

• Almost 70 percent of the kids said they'd sought assistance at a youth-service agency at least once.

• Nearly all of the youths — 95 percent — said they exchanged sex for money because it was the surest way to support themselves.

In other words, the typical kid who is commercially exploited for sex in New York City is not a tween girl, has not been sold into sexual slavery and is not held captive by a pimp.

Nearly all the boys and girls involved in the city's sex trade are going it alone.

Ric Curtis and Meredith Dank were amazed by what their research had revealed. But they were completely unprepared for the way law-enforcement officials and child-advocacy groups reacted to John Jay's groundbreaking study.

"I remember going to a meeting in Manhattan where they had a lot of prosecutors there whose job was to prosecute pimps," Curtis recalls. "They were sort of complaining about the fact that their offices were very well staffed but their workload was — not very daunting, let's say. They had a couple cases, and at every meeting you go to they'd pull out the cherry-picked case of this pimp they had busted, and they'd tell the same story at every meeting. They too were bothered by the fact that they couldn't find any pimps, any girls.

"So I come along and say, 'I found 300 kids' — they're all perky — but then I say, 'I'm sorry, but only 10 percent had pimps.'

"It was like a fart in church. Because basically I was saying their office was a waste of time and money."


Jay Albanese, a criminologist at Virginia Commonwealth University who headed up the Justice Department's research arm for four years, says the findings of the John Jay study are among the most interesting he has seen.

"Whether you are a kid or an adult, the issue becomes: To what extent is this voluntary?" Albanese says. "Because you make more money in this than being a secretary? Or because you really have no choices — like, you're running from abuse or caught up in drugs? The question becomes: If Curtis is correct, what do we do with that 90 percent? Do we ignore it? How hard do we look at how they got into that circumstance? You could make the case that for the 90 percent for whom they couldn't find any pimping going on — well, how does it happen?

"It's a very valid question," Albanese continues. "A policy question: To what extent should the public and the public's money be devoted to these issues, whether it's child prostitution or child pimping?"

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the only agency that keeps track of how many children the legal system rescues from pimps nationwide. The count, which began in June 2003, now exceeds 1,600 as of April of this year, according to the FBI's Innocence Lost website — an average of about 200 each year.

Through interviews and analysis of public records, Village Voice Media has found that the federal government spends about $20 million a year on public awareness, victims' services and police work related to domestic human trafficking, with a considerable focus on combating the pimping of children. An additional $50 million-plus is spent annually on youth homeless shelters, and since 1996 taxpayers have contributed a total of $186 million to fund a separate program that provides street outreach to kids who may be at risk of commercial sexual exploitation.

That's at least $80 million doled out annually for law enforcement and social services that combine to rescue approximately 200 child prostitutes every year.

These agencies might improve upon their $400,000-per-rescued-child average if they joined in the effort to develop a clearer picture of the population they aim to aid. But there's no incentive for them to do so when they stand to rake in even more public money simply by staying the course.

At the behest of advocates who work with pimped girls, along with a scattering of U.S. celebrities who help to publicize the cause, the bipartisan Senate tag team of Oregon's Ron Wyden, a Democrat, and John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican, is pushing for federal legislation that would earmark another $12 million to $15 million a year to fund six shelters reserved exclusively for underage victims of sex trafficking. (In an editorial published this past July, Village Voice Media expressed its support for the initiative, now folded into the pending Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.)

Though the language of the bill is gender-neutral, some advocates point to the disproportionate influence wielded by groups who direct their efforts exclusively at pimped girls. They worry that anti-sex-trafficking funding might increasingly ignore boys and transgender youths, not to mention kids of any gender who aren't enslaved by a pimp but sell sex on their own volition.

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51 comments
guyguy666
guyguy666

most victims are told not to talk about their pimps. also they might view the pimps as good too. however, i think a lot of homeless people engage in survival sex anyways. 10% of hundreds of people is still a big number in my opinion, and it might be somewhat higher than 10% Clients often don't talk about the pimps until days, weeks, or months after coming to receive resources. 

babosoff30
babosoff30

Then the focus goes back on to the customer - who I would guess is a "respectable" white male. Given that half the prostitutes are underage males, you have the complicating factor of societal homophobia to deal with. Obviously, there are a lot of straight males engaging in sex with underage girls, but the gay community is still fighting to end the myth that every gay is out to seduce teenagers.

 

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Alessandra
Alessandra

Aimeeday1972: "All this is very interesting, but sometimes I wonder if instead of asking the children "why do you do this?" we shouldn't be asking the customers "why do you want to f*ck children?"

Ah, but then they just might find out that these people who want to abuse kids are liberals, homosexuals, in favor of gay rights, the type of people the VV caters to. And how they love to sweep this kind of information very much under the rug.

The majority of these kids are male? Now who likes to have sex with boys?

Aimeeday, I totally agree. Who are these people is THE question to be asked along with the ones about the kids.

Jeff Lewis
Jeff Lewis

The media will say that millions of people are sex slaves without doing any real research on the topic. Only taking the word of special interest anti-prostitution groups which need to generate money in the form of huge government grants from taxpayers, and charities. These "non profit" group's employees make huge salaries, therefore they need to lobby the government, and inflate and invent victims in order to get more money into their organizations. If you look into how many real kidnapped forced against their will sex slaves there are, and not just take the anti-prostitution groups word for it. You will be very surprised. Where are all the forced sex slaves? I would like to meet the millions of slaves and see for myself if they were kidnapped and forced against their will.

These groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies.

This is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.

I would like to see your news organization do a full report on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being told about sex trafficking slaves. The articles about the super bowl sex slaves, has been proved wrong many times, but news organizations still report about it, as if it were fact.

Here is a good website about sex trafficking: http://bebopper76.wordpress.co...

Danielle Nickerson
Danielle Nickerson

I enjoy how some obviously didnt understand what the whole point of the article is about. the point is that the govt (our tax money) spends a shitload of money to fund groups, da's, criminal courts, special police teams aimed at targeting pimps, and skewed studies aimed at an evangelical victim. In the study produced by John Jay College points to the fact that there is only about 10% of underage prostitution victims which fall under a certain criteria and they also further push the sad sad image of a prostituted teen. This means that anywhere from 80-90% are being grossly under-represented by studies, advocacy groups govt etc. The image of a scantily clad caucasian teen girl being pimped out by a barbaric non white pimp is wrong and misrepresented only to have the evangelical america feel bad and to provide funding for such programs. meanwhile, many groups such as lgbt teens, straight teens, and teens without pimps are not being considered as an at risk population... nor are they being considered to be in immediate need compared to someones teen daughter who ran away or was "lured by some deviant off the internet" Another point is that most of these teens who are hypersexualized at an early age usually had some form of sexual abuse/trauma way before they turned to prostitution. the article provides the opposite of what child-sex trafficking advocates want to be publicized...its not the big bad wolf who is "taking our sweet children away" or are even the instigators of teen prostitution.. most often times it is a dyfunctional or neglectful family and a growing mainly unknown # of those happen to be male. its easy to point out that soemone is disappointed for only finding 3 participants initially, but a cookbook statistics class will inform you that a sample of 3 grossly misrepresents any type of educated researrch of this caliber. what is disappointing is that there are more who havent even been counted, not the researchers.

Strider01
Strider01

Poor, poor Village Voice. It gets accused of profiting from abuse, so it resorts to defending itself with conflict-of-interest pieces that undermine the veracity its attackers' data . . . so that we will ostensibly absolve the Voice of it's business practices! You know, no harm, no foul.

I have no doubt that the statistics used by the organizations named in this piece are faulty. I have no doubt that the Hollywood-charity-PR machine described is disingenuous and self-serving in its reliance on poor information. I have no doubt that the politics that produced this criticism of VVM are conservative indeed, and likely to encourage fear-mongering rather than addressing the underlying social causes of this problem, or offer true help for the victims. The Voice loves to present critical journalism of this kind, and some its writers are very good at it indeed.

However, there is such a thing as journalistic integrity. For the Voice to offer ANY pieces on this topic without addressing the obvious editorial bias at stake is likewise irresponsible, despicable, ridiculous, and reflects outlandishly poor judgment. That it thinks its readers will overlook this implies a disrespect for the intelligence of any one who can see how much VVM has to benefit (in term of its bottom line!) from editorial choices aimed at persuading its readership to consider this as a less-than-extreme problem.

Yes, there is such a thing as reactionary, dishonest fear-mongering around social issues. But the Village Voice editorship has shown us that when this happens you can always respond in as self-serving a way as possible, and thereby squander the legitimacy of any voice you have in the discourse.

Strider01
Strider01

Poor, poor Village Voice. It gets accused of profiting from abuse, so it resorts to defending itself with conflict-of-interest pieces that undermine the veracity its attackers' data . . . so that we will ostensibly absolve the Voice of it's business practices! You know, no harm, no foul.

I have no doubt that the statistics used by the organizations named in this piece are faulty. I have no doubt that the Hollywood-charity-PR machine described is disingenuous and self-serving in its reliance on poor information. I have no doubt that the politics that produced this criticism of VVM are conservative indeed, and likely to encourage fear-mongering rather than addressing the underlying social causes of this problem, or offer true help for the victims. The Voice loves to present critical journalism of this kind, and some its writers are very good at it indeed.

However, there is such a thing as journalistic integrity. For the Voice to offer ANY pieces on this topic without addressing the obvious editorial bias at stake is likewise irresponsible, despicable, ridiculous, and reflects outlandishly poor judgment. That it thinks its readers will overlook this implies a disrespect for the intelligence of any one who can see how much VVM has to benefit (in term of its bottom line!) from editorial choices aimed at persuading its readership to consider this as a less-than-extreme problem.

Yes, there is such a thing as reactionary, dishonest fear-mongering around social issues. But the Village Voice editorship has shown us that when this happens you can always respond in as self-serving a way as possible, and thereby squander the legitimacy of any voice you have in the discourse.

Aimeeday1972
Aimeeday1972

All this is very interesting, but sometimes I wonder if instead of asking the children "why do you do this?" we shouldn't be asking the customers "why do you want to f*ck children?"

Jessica
Jessica

Hmmmmm.... interesting that they changed the title from "Whore Stories:..." to "Lost Boys:..."

Jessica
Jessica

Besides some of the problems I find in their methodology, I strongly object to the term "child prostitute". A child does not and cannot consent to sex whether or not there is a financial profit. It isn't "child prostitution" it is child exploitation. These are victims, not sex workers.

ja-i-pan
ja-i-pan

oh when i read the link i thought it was talking about kim kardashian and maraih yeater.

The Myth of Sex Trafficking
The Myth of Sex Trafficking

Where are all the underage children kidnapped and forced against their will by a pimp to have sex with the general public for money?

How come we don’t see any of the forced victims themselves complaining about it?

Why don’t the “millions of forced against their will child victims” talk about how they were kidnapped and forced against their will by a evil pimp to have sex for profit? I would like to have a interview with the “millions of forced against their will raped kidnapped child victims” So I could hear their stories.

Where are they? Why do we only hear from the anti-prostitution groups that received money and grants from the government, and not the millions of victims themselves? If there are Millions of them, Shouldn't the police and public know where they are, and shouldn't we hear the millions of victims speak?

Instead, none are found.

Do all men really love raping children who are kicking, crying and screaming, with no one willing to help? Like the anti-prostitution groups say?

Here are some good websites about sex trafficking:

http://bebopper76.wordpress.co...

http://sextraffickingtruths.bl...

http://researchonhumantraffick...

http://sextraffickingvictims.b...

http://sextraffickingintheusa....

http://www.villagevoice.com/se...

http://www.melonfarmers.co.uk/...

Counselor
Counselor

If you don't know why the Riverfront Times runs these types of stories on the frontpage all the time--about how few underage girls are involved in prostitution--it's because their parent company, Village Voice Media, tells them to. These corporate guys are scared to death that one of their biggest moneymakers, the BackPage--where you can still find girls for sale for sex--will go the way of Craigslist's erotic section. It seems that the strongest argument among the public against prostitution is that it involves teenage heterosexual girls (nobody cares much about teenage homosexual boys), and the Village Voice wants to demolish that argument by showing that few underage girls are involved in this, the world's oldest profession. So instead of hardhitting exposes of fraud and waste, we now get yet another frontpage story about "don't worry about hookers....their almost all over the age of 18!" The more you know....

Geraldina
Geraldina

True, most women are whores.

LifeIsSweetBaby
LifeIsSweetBaby

Curious why @villagevoice changed the original title of this piece. "Whore Stories" is NOT what the author titled the piece. (Village voice owns this paper also) Nine months later Dank and Curtis had far surpassed their goal, completing interviews with 249 underage prostitutes. From that data, they were able to put a number on the total population of New York's teen sex workers: 3,946.

Curious why @villagevoice changed the name of this article. "Whore Stories" is NOT what the author titled it.

Ed Drain
Ed Drain

Backpage says the science is questionable, to which I say, your study is questionable. Backpage's ethics are not questionable -- they are just plain wrong. Anyone who makes a living selling children deserves new living quarters -- in prison. Any company, Backpage included, that continues to facilitate a market for the sale of children deserves condemnation, ridicule, legal actions against them and ultimately destruction of such companies. I call for public resistance to Backpage and EVERYTHING it sells. I call on everyone to have NO business with backpage at all. Make a moral decision not to support a company that knowingly lets children be sold via its webpage.

Ed Drain
Ed Drain

blah blah blah, more of the same. VV says: there is no problem. then: there is a problem but we are spending (out of the mother-load they are making CREATING the problem) all this money to mitagate it. Now VV shows that at least one adult can prostitute herself with a pen. Congratulations, Kristin Hinman, for a fine piece of prostitution!

Ted Haggard
Ted Haggard

Typical of American society we ignore the actual problem and focus time, energy and resources on manufactured problems, just so long as they make for sensationalized headlines. Not than anyone really wants to address the real problem of sexual abuse of minors, which eminates from the home and family, not from strangers lurking behind some bush. We'd rather conjure up some fictionalized pimp driving a big cadillac, wearing a mauve leisre suit and a fedora sporting a big feather than accept the fact that more than 90 % of abusers are parents, siblings, uncles/aunts and family friends. How much money is being spent on protecting those children?

No, we'd rather spend an average of $400,000 per pimped out kid on the street than tackle the real problems or spend hundreds of millions to pay cops to pretend they are kids and look for hookups on the internet instead of going after real problems of abuse. Are there really any kids on the internet looking for sex or is it just a bunch of cops and reporters looking to get their humiliation jollies?

No it's easier to just conjure up non-existent monsters or inflate problems rather than to correct the causes of abuse by looking at who is really starting the abusive cycle like the christian conservative republican judge in Texas who beats his disabled 16 year old daughter on Youtube for 8 minutes.

Susan Finley
Susan Finley

I guess it sells product to call the article "Whore Stories." Nice touch. Again, vast chasm between academics and the street. And the conclusion? Who wants to PAY for help for these kids? So there ya go. Not further exploration of a society where cops rape kids in their custody or adults pay for underage sex with impunity or the internet allows for new networks off the street or there are new attitudes about sex and money and what does that mean about morality. No, just who wants to pay to get these kids better? Figures...

Dave
Dave

Another problem is while police use the child issue as an excuse to bust in private consenting adult whose sexual services are legal and no big deal in almost all the world except the U.S. Millions of dollars to enforce laws with no victims other than certain peoples idea of "morality"

In one big FBI, local police action in many cities they arrested about 1000 women, and only about 10 were underaged!

The Supreme Court in Lawrence vs Texas protected sexual privacy and specifically stated that laws can not be based on morality. Lets spend the money going after real pimps and abuse not in private consenting adult sex workers.

Many adult women fund their college educations this way and many enjoy the "work"

Streetmeme
Streetmeme

Without being a statistician I find it difficult to tell who to believe on either side here but...come on...it's not a stretch of common sense or imagination to think a sizeable portion of these kids are males! It's not a stretch to think that a lot of them (boys and girls) are doing it by choice either. This leads me to believe that some of the people and organizations listed in this article lack common sense and have no imaginations. Par for the course.

Susannola3
Susannola3

RIP RFT.... You are wrong. Can't you all give it a rest... you are dead wrong on this and trying to defend that sexual abuse and trafficking aren't a huge and growing problem in the world is just plain pathetic. Your continual focus on this reminds me of a drunken belligerent idiot who everyone knows needs to shut their mouth, but they are oblivious to what is going on around them so they keep talking further putting their foot in their mouth and offending everyone in the process. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just admit you are wrong and shut up.

Tim Cowin
Tim Cowin

"But after spending several hours sweating in the muggy August air, the professor and his PhD student decided to head home. They'd found a grand total of three hookers. Only two were underage, and all three were skittish about climbing into a car with two strangers and a tape recorder."

Is the above quote a mistake? They found only 3 hookers,,,,,but "only" 2 were underage? Did they need 3 of 3 to be underage to cause concern? If One of three were underage, or 1/3 in this case, would that cause no concern?

i could not read past this opening phrase. Is the RFT really going this low? Ignoring the fact that underage girls, around the world, are sexually abused and enslaved into prostitution is a terrible blindness of the western world!

Nate
Nate

Did anyone stop and think that maybe the John Jay study's methods of gathering participants was more skewed towards older, more independent types. A young teenage girl getting pimped probably would be scared of participating in a study, or she wouldn't be able to find time to get away from her pimp.

Of course, as mentioned, the very idea of child-sex trafficking is itself a small industry, a job-creator if you will. Not for the children, but for all the advocacy "non-profits", academics studying the issue, etc Let's face it, there probably people getting paid very good money to ring the alarm bells of child-sex trafficking, and they need to look useful in order to keep getting that money, so of course they're going to pad their numbers.

jpinsfnow
jpinsfnow

@Alessandra You didn't get the whole piece about politics denying the reality of teen male prostitutes and teen female prostitutes with no pimp opting for prostitution. It's political and blind comments like yours that keep things from getting fixed. I'm a faggot and I don't have sex with kids. If there were no men left on the Earth, I wouldn't fcuk a kid, and I still wouldn't touch a dumb bitch like you. You're a conservative cnut.

Phoenix
Phoenix

You ignore the part where it's stated that the vast majority of customers are rich white men. You tell me who's much more likely to be rich, white, and sexually in the closet, "officially" straight yet seeking sex with males on the side? (Here are a few hints for you: George Rekers, Larry Craig, Paul Babeu...)

stev0205
stev0205

Yea and those morons used sources too! What the hell were they thinking, reporting the findings of a scientific study!?!?

Let's consider the common perception for why scientists would falsify the outcome of their own study: to get more grant money by sensationalizing the false findings.

So, you're telling me, these scientists are trying to further their own agenda, by proving that less money needs to be funded into their own studies? Thus lowering the chances of receive absurd amounts of grant money, and possibly putting themselves out of work.

I guess then they can become prostitutes and study themselves. Brilliant!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Your last name wouldn't happen to be Pot by chance, would it?

Bob
Bob

If you had taken the time to read the rest of the 8 page story you would have understood the statement. The previous "research" indicated that there are thousands, so to find 3 is disappointing. Also a researcher is not a rescuer on an individual level. The research is done so the problem can be analyzed and a solution can be created to address the problem, helping many not just one or two.

Arab
Arab

Yeah I don't get the "only 2" thing either. Looks like the RFT has abandoned journalistic standards and instead has just gone to be as inflammatory as possible. Hey, whatever gets the website hits, right?

JAHNEEL
JAHNEEL

I agree with you, except its not a small industry but a $32 million dollar industry.The fastes growing illegal crime worldwide. If you know any of these trafficked girls in Hunts Point, Buschwick, Queens plaza or even in 42nd street. Bring them to GEMS. its the only organization in New York that help these young girls.

Just remember these girls stories are real. It wasnt their choice to sell their body. Imagine coming from a broken home, abused all the time, with no where else to go. And then someone offers you a life full of hope. An opportunity most wouldn't give up, to be lead in a trap of sexual explotation. The average age of a prostitute is 13 !

spread the word and call GEMS

THHWr
THHWr

lol @ acting like the rft had standards to begin with

 
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