Dealing With a Troubling Underage Sex Trade
It isn’t just Thailand where a troubling trade in underage sex, involving the abuse of victims too young to consent, is widely reputed to exist.
Right here in the U.S., apparent prostitutes, some of whom appear to be under 18, advertise on Internet sites, reports a Bloomberg columnist.
“Advocates for troubled children have shined a light on the trade to show that youngsters selling their bodies aren’t criminals but victims. This made prosecutors aware that a problem getting attention in Thailand and other infamous foreign stops for sex tourists was occurring at home,” writes Ann Woolner.
Authorities are trying to prosecute the adult patrons involved in underage prostitution–and discourage other adults from participating in the first place, by warning them of the risk of arrest, she points out. In Atlanta, for instance, where the mayor’s office estimates half of all prostitutes are under age 17 and some are as young as 11, the city has conducted an award-winning “Dear John” advertising campaign directed at patrons. The city also, this week, raised the minimum required age for strippers in legal clubs to 21 from 18, in an effort to discourage underage victims from being sexually exploited in illegal activities that tend to occur in the vicinity of strip clubs.
However, the extent of the problem can be overwhelming. says Keith Meadows, a lieutenant in charge of the Atlanta police department’s vice squad. In the two hours it takes him to scroll through the erotic services listings on one popular Web site, looking for underage prostitution victims in his city, he says, another 100 postings have been made.