On 15 September, the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security conducted a hearing on “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking” in the United States. (NB: A minor in the United States is an individual under the age of 18.) On ongoing issue in the United States which every year touches over 100,000 children. The sex trafficking and exploitation of a child victim, on average begins when the child is 12 to 13 years of age.

Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) a sponsor of the proposed “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010 (H.R. 5575 )” made some key points during his testimony worthy of approbation:

  • “Driven by demand and fueled by the ease and secrecy of the internet,” … “we are facing a crisis of child exploitation in this nation.”
  • “Tragically, homegrown demand, enabled by the misuse of the internet drives much of the domestic minor sex trafficking in the U.S.”
  • “The internet has opened a whole new front in the war with human trafficking – allowing demand to run free without practical obstacles”
  • “We must develop more effective safeguards and enforcement of existing laws to ensure that neither obscenity nor child pornography is protected speech, therefore we must stop the criminal misuse of the internet for human trafficking and child pornography.”
  • “I heartily applaud the hard work and remarkable coordination of state and federal resources to stop domestic minor sex trafficking,” Rep. Smith said. “But there is a huge gap in the numbers we rescue versus the estimated 100,000 victims out there.”

The Women’s Funding Network, Chief Program Officer, Deborah Richardson also testified at the hearing, some of her comments drove home the point that these children continue to be viewed more often as criminals than as victims.

  • “I have seen girls as young as 10, handcuffed, literally hauled off to juvenile detention – and charged as offenders, while the men who paid for sex with these young victims went free.
  • “The Internet is consistently the predominate source of traffickers to advertise girls and for predators to purchase young girls. The anonymity and low risk the internet provides make this heinous crime practically risk free.”
  • “We believe the strategies to end domestic sex trafficking are clear:
    • Decriminalize girls who are trafficked, provide them with care and protection as victims and provide services for their rescue and restoration.
    • Provide resources to law enforcement to increase arrests, prosecuting both the traffickers and especially the predators.
    • Legislative response to claims by websites that their conduct is immune from local and state law enforcement.
    • Oversight role of other federal branches of government responding to these issues.
    • Together as a nation, that values human rights, we must come together and create a no tolerance for buying and selling our children for sex.”

Ms. Richardson demonstrated her point and played segments of actual voice recordings from men who were answering an online ad to purchase young girls (Audio File 55 Seconds):

She went on to point out that this is only a few out of the 264 voice recordings over six months  in states that permit an individual to record a call. Chilling isn’t it, sickening as well.

I agree with both Representative Smith and Ms. Richardson, far too few children are being saved in comparison to the numbers of children being exploited.  As I noted in my own pieces on the sex trafficking of children in the United States (see below) the pimps on average earn $200,000 per child per annum as they prostitute the children they control.  And as long as society allows children to be treated as a commodity, the child will remain the perceived criminal and not the victim.  These children need our help, and they need it now.

Thank you for your time.  Please engage.

All the best,

Sex Trafficking of Children in Texas
Sex Trafficking of Children in Nevada
Sex Trafficking of Children in Southeaster US (FL, AL, GA)
Human Trafficking: North Dakota
Human Trafficking: Children as a Commodity
Hearing on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (September 15, 2010) [approx 4 hours]