Child trafficking in Portland, Oregon
May 19, 2010 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Last night Dan Rather reports presented on child sex trafficking in Portland, Oregon. The Oregonian newspaper briefly covered the Dan Rather report and also had a longer article in January about the same issue. Dan Rather wrote a short piece in the Huffington Post yesterday, saying that Portland is second in the nation for child prostitution. The organization ECTAP-USA (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) published this 2005 (PDF) report about child prostitution in the US, linking it, in part, to the strip club industry.
posted by bluedaisy (51 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
ok ok, so we've got this one little flaw.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:40 AM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is Sam Adams in the news again?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:47 AM on May 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


according to that oregonian article, we have a legal sex industry here. who knew? considering al the prostitution stings that are on the news all the time...
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:50 AM on May 19, 2010


Obligatory disclaimer: it's understood that, yes, there are children being commercially sexually exploited in the U.S., and it's probably not as rare as we'd like to think. But I'm already seeing a red flag here. From Dan Rather's article:
The most conservative estimates are that at least 10,000 American children are being victimized. Many experts say they believe it's closer to 30,000 or more.
And the Oregonian (second link):
About 300,000 American youths are trafficked for sexual exploitation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
How long before the "estimates" hit the seven figures?
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:53 AM on May 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


This really makes me waver in my opposition to capital punishment.
posted by Danf at 10:55 AM on May 19, 2010


This really makes me waver in my opposition to capital punishment.

Totally. Those who pimp children need to die. What else is there to say?
posted by codswallop at 10:58 AM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


My pastor did a sermon regarding the problem of child sexual slavery...apparently the problem is shockingly widespread over the globe-and even more shocking to me personally, shockingly widespread here in the States. We've been raising funds to contribute to organizations fighting the problem-one in a foreign country helping young girls rescued from the sex trade, and one organization targeting the perps.

Anything helping shine a light on this problem has to help, I think. Thanks for the post.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:58 AM on May 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Portland?
Fox News to report on liberals and child sex rings in 5, 4, 3...
posted by Thorzdad at 11:00 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]




What about the customers?

posted by spicynuts at 11:03 AM on May 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't think that increasing the punishment for pimping is going to reduce the occurrence. Seems to me that for the kind of person who would find that kind of business interesting, increasing the risk would also increase the appeal. Danger is cool. That's why cool clothes are "pimpin' " and cool guns are "gangsta".

The market for sex is not the sort that will disappear just because you clamp down on it. It's like the market for cocaine. As long as people with too much money like cocaine, there will be a market. Certain people, the sort of people who enjoy living dangerously, will step in to fill the need. There are no exceptions to this rule.

I'd prefer if the people who fulfilled that need were given incentive to do it in the least harmful way. If prostitution were legal and regulated, there would be less human trafficking involved. It won't make me think any better of the pimps. But it will help the people who are being exploited this way, and I certainly hope that's the objective.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:03 AM on May 19, 2010


crap...that was supposed to be:


Totally. Those who pimp children need to die. What else is there to say?


What about the customers?
posted by spicynuts at 11:04 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suspect, like the scandals in the 80s, that this will be proven to be widely overblown.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:07 AM on May 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


*daringly decries child prostitution*
posted by pracowity at 11:10 AM on May 19, 2010 [19 favorites]


On a more serious note, at least in Portland's case, this is representative of a greater problem with the law enforcement generally. The police situation here really is a mess - in practice, yes, but mostly in bureaucracy. I'm certainly not defending all of the police force's actions in the past couple of years, but the cops here spend a lot of their time on the PR defensive, justifying actions that in many other cities would be considered par for the course. This is a good and bad thing. It holds cops accountable, but it also takes up their time and makes them overly cautious when dealing with criminal activity.

Portland police have basically become social workers with tasers. So much time and energy is devoted to trying to maintain order amongst the immense homeless population, debating and enforcing silly laws like sit/lie, and filing paperwork about downtown bike theft. There is an illusion here that this is what the cops do because there aren't any other crimes to attend to. It's an illusion that makes everyone feel cozy, even when just a few days ago a cop got shot twice during a routine traffic stop in a decently upscale neighborhood. Cops here spend a ridiculously inordinate amount of time keeping up appearances, kicking homeless people off sidewalks and biking around the club blocks in the very public, "visible" parts of town that a lot of the more investigative stuff - like child prostitution - sort of falls by the wayside. I mean, gentrification, ordinance and cops worried about saving their asses and their jobs has basically pushed serious crime past 82nd street, sweeping it under the rug. And as far as the police and the municipal government are concerned, it's an out of sight out of mind kind of thing.

Of course, the other problem is that if a cop does discover a child prostitute, you have to arrest her - for prostitution. (Rightfully) the public gets up in arms about this sort of thing, lashes out, and the cops face another PR nightmare, another police chief is fired, a new one hired, and the same shit happens all over again with a new cast. I feel that so often for Portland cops, it's a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. In a way, Portland is often more concerned about prosecuting cops then prosecuting the people cops are supposed to catch.

The Merc did a piece about child prostitution here about a year ago. It isn't a secret nor a surprise that there is a problem here. But because of the aforementioned problems with police and their public reputation, coupled with the problems inherent in trying to find and prosecute pimps while saving child prostitutes from not only a lifetime of psychological turmoil but from injustices in the justice system, it's a really tricky problem to address. These are not girls that come forward, and our cops are not the sort that press hard. So, here we are.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:11 AM on May 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


From Dan Rather's article:
The most conservative estimates are that at least 10,000 American children are being victimized. Many experts say they believe it's closer to 30,000 or more.
And the Oregonian (second link):
About 300,000 American youths are trafficked for sexual exploitation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
How long before the "estimates" hit the seven figures?


The Huffington Post article originally used the figures "100,00" and "300,00" (sic). I noticed this shortly after the article was posted and wondered which interpretation was correct. It was changed to 10,000 and 30,000 sometime after posting. So maybe the Oregonian made a typo, or maybe the correction to the Huffington Post article was incorrect.

There are only somewhere around 12,000,000 girls between 13 and 18 in the US (roughly extrapolating from Wikipedia)... 300,000 would be over 2% of all teenage girls in the US being trafficked for sexual exploitation, which is a bit hard to swallow.
posted by bgribble at 11:17 AM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, that's some yellow journalism. "Legal sex industry" gets presented as a matter of fact, as if Portland is Amsterdam. There's no explanation of what these terms mean, it only comes up in the comment thread for the Oregonian story that the "legal sex undustry" probably just means Portland has strip clubs and adult shops...which are not 'sex' in any way and are present in just about any metropolitan area in the country.

Also, Portland is mentioned as being second in the country, so which city is first, and why aren't they covering that city?
posted by mullingitover at 11:17 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, w/r/t the "legal and illegal" sex industry here: to be clear, we are a very sexually liberal community. "Sex worker" is a fairly legit business pursuit. However, the sex industry has nothing to do with prostitution - and I don't think the most liberal Portlander (minus the pedophiles) would condone the trafficking of children.

When they say the "legal" sex industry, they're talking about things like strip clubs with little restriction (like you can have totally naked girls and liquor in the same building), or swingers clubs and sex clubs, loose restrictions on escorts and erotic services, and a liberal view of what counts as "art." I don't really like how some of the reporting here seems to want to connect these two really, really different industries.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:19 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the linked articles, the rank of 2nd in the nation is based on one sting operation in which Portland was one of 29 cities targeted. In that one operation, Portland had the 2nd highest count of child prostitutes rescued. It's quite misleading to present that as a statistic about overall child prostitution rates in Portland versus elsewhere.
posted by snofoam at 11:20 AM on May 19, 2010


Also, Portland is mentioned as being second in the country, so which city is first, and why aren't they covering that city?

Because it's probably LA or something, and wouldn't be nearly as *shocking* as a trouble in "paradise" story.

I love Portland so very much - but come on - people live here, and people commit crimes. We've got our fair share of municipal problems.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:21 AM on May 19, 2010


So Lutoslawski, you don't think the fact that there are "dozens" of drug investigators, and only 2 vice investigators (from the huffpo article, which I read yesterday), is at least partly responsible for this situation? It's because the cops in general are too busy keeping up appearances?

Do investigators even have beats?
posted by shownomercy at 11:23 AM on May 19, 2010


One of the articles mentioned that Seattle is first. I think.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:24 AM on May 19, 2010


I'm certainly not defending all of the police force's actions in the past couple of years, but the cops here spend a lot of their time on the PR defensive, justifying actions that in many other cities would be considered par for the course.

In a way, Portland is often more concerned about prosecuting cops then prosecuting the people cops are supposed to catch.

According to my friend in Portland, the law enforcement and mayor there are currently buried in some kind of "giant pile of shit of their own making". Back in 2006 there was a homeless schizophrenic named James Chasse who was making a scene, as homeless schizophrenics are wont to do, and so ten cops decided to beat the shit out of him and taze him over and over, ended up fracturing 16 of his ribs and leaving him with 26 broken bones and a punctured lung. Then they threw him in a squad car and took him to jail to be booked, and he died before they could be bothered to get him to a hospital. The inevitable lawsuit just got settled last week.

Then a couple months ago, a man was threatening suicide, and as one cop was actually managing to talk him down, a police sniper, who wasn't in radio contact with the cops who weren't hundreds of yards away, shot him in the back a few times. In both of these murders, they've blamed the victims for noncompliance.

This is not "par for the course" anywhere, and if this is the sort of thing that the Portland police are involved in, they damn well better be seeing to their own shit. But it sounds like they're wallowing in enough shit that yeah, they do not have time to deal.
posted by kafziel at 11:27 AM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are only somewhere around 12,000,000 girls between 13 and 18 in the US

By census results, right? Many children are trafficked from other countries, undocumented. It's a lot easier to keep someone under slavery if they don't know the language and don't even have documentation.
posted by yeloson at 11:31 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


So Lutoslawski, you don't think the fact that there are "dozens" of drug investigators, and only 2 vice investigators (from the huffpo article, which I read yesterday), is at least partly responsible for this situation? It's because the cops in general are too busy keeping up appearances?

Do investigators even have beats?


Well, I'm dubious about the stats in the HuffPost article, honestly. From the conversations I've had and heard, the police force doesn't even really know what cops are taking care of what and where - But yes, I'm sure that's certainly part of it, and I don't mean to be reductive in any way.

The thing about the so-called 'drug investigators' is that these are the cops keeping up the appearances. They bust homeless people for petty drug crimes to kick them off the street, and maybe once a year they do a house bust. It's a systemic management problem, not just one of mis-allocating police resources.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:31 AM on May 19, 2010


Oh, that Dan Rather -- always digging up dirt on Republicans...
posted by LordSludge at 11:33 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


How long before the "estimates" hit the seven figures?

The broad brushes bother me too, because it starts to sound like talk of inflated talk of the "drug epidemic" sometimes, and who's going to challenge it here?

There will be lots of wiggle room for people to choose their own numbers, thanks to the state by state differences, the underdefined "sex industry" umbrella, and some pretty finely-split hairs.

Everyone pictures 10 year old girls being forced into prostitution, here... which triggers all the (justified) outrage possible... and hopefully that's the sort of thing the small-number estimates are talking about.

But you can pump up the numbers many ways, if that's your goal. Including 17, 18, or even 20 year old exotic dancers, for example, can inflate the numbers drastically, since that's a "sex industry" too if you want to call it that, and those are all underage in one state or another.
posted by rokusan at 11:33 AM on May 19, 2010


"In a way, Portland is often more concerned about prosecuting cops then prosecuting the people cops are supposed to catch. "

I'm surprised you mention reading the Mercury and then also say this. I read the Mercury a lot when I lived in Portland, and they clearly documented both the Portland PD's acts of insane brutality and murder as well as the police union's ability to protect the guilty officers from justice. The problem in Portland is the cops are the type of people that the Police were supposed to be protecting the city from.
posted by mullingitover at 11:39 AM on May 19, 2010


Danf : This really makes me waver in my opposition to capital punishment.

The problems with capital punishment don't go away when the severity of the charges increases.
posted by Drexen at 11:43 AM on May 19, 2010 [15 favorites]


This is not "par for the course" anywhere, and if this is the sort of thing that the Portland police are involved in, they damn well better be seeing to their own shit. But it sounds like they're wallowing in enough shit that yeah, they do not have time to deal.

Oh, the Portland cops have definitely done some fucked up shit. The James Chasse case is especially troubling - and the cops should get everything that's coming to them with that one. Same goes for the Aaron Campbell case (the sniper/suicide case you mentioned) (for those unfamiliar, Portland Cop Watch is a good resource for this stuff.) It's worth noting that these two cases are really the only ones that come up in this debate. Yes, they are fucked up, but it would be misleading to make large scale judgments based on two egregious and not really representative cases.

What I meant by the 'par for the course' thing is this: the police have severely blemished their record, yes, so when a situation does arise where police using lethal force is justifiable, or would be in a larger city with more incidents of this nature, the cops still face a ridiculous amount of public shit to deal with. Like the recent incident in Washington Park, where a homeless, blood-covered man approached a police officer with a razor blade and refused to listen to the cop's requests to stand down. With no back-up and public and personal safety in question, the man was shot and killed. I think this was reasonable, but of course the backlash was immense. Court hearings, in-depth reviews and studies commence.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:44 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


By census results, right? Many children are trafficked from other countries, undocumented. It's a lot easier to keep someone under slavery if they don't know the language and don't even have documentation.

Very true, but not in these numbers without it becoming very apparent.

Of course, the other problem is that if a cop does discover a child prostitute, you have to arrest her - for prostitution.

No, juvenile victims of sexual exploitation can be taken into protective custody without arrest.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:45 AM on May 19, 2010


Of course, the other problem is that if a cop does discover a child prostitute, you have to arrest her - for prostitution.

No, juvenile victims of sexual exploitation can be taken into protective custody without arrest.


I wish this were true, but very often it is not. I watched a very interesting documentary about this very subject (I believe it was called "Very Young Girls" or something - I'm not going to google it at work) and often this is not how it works out. Of course, I cannot verify the veracity of all this films claims, but the testimony of former child prostitutes who had been through the legal process shows that at least *some* child prostitutes are arrested for prostitution and never get the chance of entering protective custody.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:50 AM on May 19, 2010


Like the recent incident in Washington Park, where a homeless, blood-covered man approached a police officer with a razor blade and refused to listen to the cop's requests to stand down. With no back-up and public and personal safety in question, the man was shot and killed. I think this was reasonable, but of course the backlash was immense.

Yeah, right? Perfectly reasonable. I mean, it's not like the guy could have been stopped from advancing by wounding him in the leg.
posted by rhizome at 11:57 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


" ...10,000 American children ... closer to 30,000 or more ... 300,000 American youths ..."

Wow. What could the root of this hideous problem be?

"We've been raising funds to contribute to ..."

Ahhh...wait...what was that last one again? Mm-hmm. Selling kiddie sex outrage is one of the larger growth industries around. Like Terrorists and Porn Stars and Teens that Kill! - a guaranteed irresistible return on your news investment. One that leads to funding, and people being afraid to not be on your side. Just another form of pimping and cashing in on the evil. Not to mention the evil of turning something truly odious into just another fake car alarm going off that people ignore.
posted by umberto at 11:57 AM on May 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yeah, right? Perfectly reasonable. I mean, it's not like the guy could have been stopped from advancing by wounding him in the leg.

Why do people always say this? It's a complete urban myth. You can easily die from getting hit in the femur.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:01 PM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm skeptical myself, as in the 2009 issue of Global Crime, "Beyond the 'Natasha' story - a review and critique of current research on sex trafficking", Sheldon Zhang writes (from the abstract):

Abstract
A review of literature on sex trafficking since 2000 reveals that numerous articles have been published in scholarly journals but few are based on systematic primary data collection. Much of our current knowledge, including statistical estimates and characteristics of the trafficking business, derives from a handful reports issued by government and non-government agencies. With few empirical studies available, imagination seems to have filled the gaps of our knowledge. The problem was further complicated by a manifest (sometimes subtle) moral crusading agenda aimed at a deep-rooted and hotly debated social practice.

Also noticeable in the literature is an increasing number of authors who have begun to challenge the empirical premises claimed by these published reports. These sceptical authors find that many articles of questionable quality have been published in peer-reviewed journals, and claim that the current discourse on human trafficking is driven by mythology rather than empirical research.

Rather than dwelling on gaps in our knowledge or concerns over the moral overtone in academic research, this paper seeks to raise specific research questions and explore possible field strategies that can advance our knowledge on this topic. Regardless of one's moral compass, the future of research on sex trafficking cannot become credible without a solid empirical foundation.
posted by scunning at 12:03 PM on May 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I mean, it's not like the guy could have been stopped from advancing by wounding him in the leg.

Do taze him, bro!
posted by Pollomacho at 12:07 PM on May 19, 2010


it's not like the guy could have been stopped from advancing by wounding him in the leg

You do it. I'm no fan of the police, but there's a reason you're taught to aim for the center of mass. It's not to kill but to make sure you hit what you're aiming at and put it down. Not many people would respond to such a situation with a perfectly steady hand.
posted by yerfatma at 12:21 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You do it. I'm no fan of the police, but there's a reason you're taught to aim for the center of mass. It's not to kill but to make sure you hit what you're aiming at and put it down. Not many people would respond to such a situation with a perfectly steady hand.

Yeah exactly. Plus, if you try to aim for the lower leg (because the thigh will kill - and you actually could still kill from shooting the lower leg if bones shattered in the right way) you're more likely to miss and hit someone else behind the assailant. I mean, the police have certain protocols for a reason. plus if you're trying to corner a cop with a knife, what do you think is gonna happen?
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:26 PM on May 19, 2010


The numbers presented are definitely problematic. I looked for the source of the 300,000 number, which is batted around all over the place, rarely with reference to the ultimate source. The source seems to be this 2001 report, which attempts to estimate the number of children at risk for sexual exploitation, and comes up with a range of about 240,000-280,000 (neither of which is 300,000, but whatever). Their definition of "at risk" is:

children who because of their unique circumstances as runaways, thrownaways, victims of physical or sexual abuse, users of psychotropic drugs, members of sexual minority groups, illegally trafficked children, children who cross international borders in search of cheap drugs and sex, and other illicit fare, are at special risk of sexual exploitation.

Looking at the methodology, it seems like their doing things like counting every runaway as "at risk", and counting every reported case of sexual abuse as an "at risk" case for commercial sexual exploitation.

The report even contains an underscored sentence saying: "The numbers presented in these exhibits do not, therefore, reflect the actual number of cases of the CSEC [commercial sexual exploitation of children] in the United States but, rather, what we estimate to be the number of children iat risk' of commercial sexual exploitation." I wonder if the authors thought that the underscore would prevent their results from being misrepresented?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:27 PM on May 19, 2010


So, about those pesky links at the top of the page: is Portland actually significantly into child prostitution like the linked articles claim? And if that's true, why? What's different about Portland in this regard? Rich clients? Bad law enforcement? Good law enforcement (they catch more)? Wacky laws?

Totally. Those who pimp children need to die. What else is there to say?

According to Rather's Huffington piece:
The girls, sometimes as young as 12, often 13-16, are lured by a "front man" in his mid-to-late teens.
Are you sure you want the US government executing teenagers for sex crimes involving other teenagers?
posted by pracowity at 12:29 PM on May 19, 2010


Ugh. From the Oregonian article:

Portland has become a center for human trafficking for several reasons, said Keith Bickford, a Multnomah County sheriff's detective who heads the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force ....

Yet, the state keeps no data on victims of sexual trafficking, Bickford said, making it difficult to accurately assess the depth of the problem and get adequate resources.


So they keep no data on the victims, and yet they're able to assert that underage prostitution is a huge problem? This is weak and sensationalist reporting. And frankly, the hook for the Dan Rather report seems to be, "And WHITE girls are doing it, too! Can you imagine?"

Every single one of the stories linked here has dubious statistics -- when numbers are even provided at all, they vary widely and some are lacking proper citation. And the rest of the time, there are references to "hundreds" and "many," etc. This quote from the journal article scunning linked to pretty much sums up what I've come to believe about this sort of reportage:

The absence of sound empirical studies, those involving primary data collection among
the target populations (victims and traffickers), is glaring in the current discourse on human
trafficking, and for valid reasons. When few reliable data are available, imagination seems to
have taken the place of sound empirical studies. However there are no shortages of policy
recommendations made by researchers and advocacy groups armed with nothing but a few
anecdotal stories or studies that defy empirical verification and replication.

posted by cowboy_sally at 12:32 PM on May 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Portland has had this issue for years. I remember reading about the director's trips to portland to gather ideas and information for My Own Private Idaho, before the movie even came out. Years later when I was living in downtown PDX, and some 15-ish looking guy drops trou and tells me he's hungry and can I help, as I'm walking home from work one night, I recalled the movie, and a lot of stuff I'd seen in that city started making a sad sort of sense. All the sunday mornings when I'd see some guy in an expensive car pull up to the curb a few blocks off from the crusty-punk hangout zones, and let out a young man, then drive off. They weren't parents who didn't give a shit about their kid hanging out on skid row for a sunday's fun, they were john's dropping off last night's service provider.
posted by nomisxid at 12:35 PM on May 19, 2010


Didn't Slate do a series of articles of a year ago pointing out how these numbers are completely made up? Can't seem to find it right now, perhaps I am misremembering.

I did read a study that many young girls who are at-risk for sexual slavery end up going to rainbow parties or becoming part of satanic cults which perform rituals on babies. One even ate a bunch of pop rocks and drank a whole two liter bottle of soda and died.
posted by Falconetti at 12:38 PM on May 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I find it ironic that people mention broad strokes in this reportage and yet paint the PPD with the same broad paintbrush.

Nothing about regulating a societies sexual proclivities and vices is going to be easy, especially not when actions of a group of hired peacekeepers is mired in the politics involved.

The truth is, the entire force isn't involved in the politics involved in the Chasse incident or the Jackie Collins incident. Life goes on, and so does policing. While a few (really terrible) incidents get attention, there is still plenty of gang activity and drug traffic moving through the area to contend with. Task forces and politicking are going to get more attention pulled to the issue of the sex trade, and rightly so.

Maybe media-attention like this will help bring to light the parts of society that make the sex trade an acceptable reality for some people, and with that we'll start seeing change.
posted by tmt at 12:39 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I saw an E! True Hollywood story on Courtney Love that said she ran away from home to Portland, OR, at a young age (14 or 15, I think?) and found a job stripping in Portland, then was recruited to become a stripper in Japan, and for years she just went back and forth between Portland and Japan.
posted by anniecat at 12:42 PM on May 19, 2010


I was on a jury for a youth prostitution case - the kid was a 15 year old run-away. And what was interesting was that there was a lot of opposition in the 'stable' over letting the girl in, and some of the other prostitutes assisted the detectives in the investigation.

This seemed like a legitimate case. And so I agree with others that these numbers seem suspect. If there were 300,000, or even 30,000, child sex workers then I don't think that the case I sat on would have been so scandalous to the other workers. It would've been common, yeah?
posted by kanewai at 12:45 PM on May 19, 2010


Didn't Slate do a series of articles of a year ago pointing out how these numbers are completely made up? Can't seem to find it right now, perhaps I am misremembering.

Yeah, Jack Shafer wrote a number of pieces disputing Peter Landesman's article in the NYT magazine about child sex trafficking. (Daniel Radosh wrote about it too.)

I wonder whether Shafer will address Rather's article. He's criticized him in the past.
posted by cowboy_sally at 12:46 PM on May 19, 2010


There are only somewhere around 12,000,000 girls between 13 and 18 in the US (roughly extrapolating from Wikipedia)... 300,000 would be over 2% of all teenage girls in the US being trafficked for sexual exploitation, which is a bit hard to swallow.

Besides the undocumented youth mentioned earlier, I imagine some of this number -- even if a tiny proportion -- are boys.
posted by aclevername at 12:47 PM on May 19, 2010


Portland and Seattle are both major destinations for teenage runaways as both cities have very tolerant cultures for homelessness and begging on the street, big alternative youth cultural scenes, good social services, and booming drug markets for heroin and meth especially, as well as being the biggest cities in an otherwise rural and working-class region. I suspect it's this, rather than any particular proclivities of Northwesterners or even the particular problems with their law enforcement systems, that accounts for their lead in this sad category.

The answer to this problem is increasing the availability of social services to young runaways and homeless kids, not upping the violence level of law enforcement.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:23 PM on May 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


I suspect, like the scandals in the 80s, that this will be proven to be widely overblown.
Your suspicions would be wrong. Part of the problem is child sex slavery is the hot button and it seems like the only way to get people involved in the subject of child exploitation and slavery in general.

The attitude seems to be:
Working someone to death - meh. I don't like to pay too much for coffee
Child stripping - OMFG!

Plenty of child exploitation in Mexico as well (hey, she shouldn't wear that dress and be addicted to heroin if she didn't want to have sex with a donkey).

But it's not going to spill over into the biggest, richest market in the world? The U.S. isn't going to have human trafficking going on within its borders? Why - because it's wrong? Because there are laws?
Yeah, how's that war on drugs going? Smuggling of illegal immigrants slowed down any?

Know what one of the top earning businesses is for Russian organized crime in Chicago? Cleaning ladies. (The mafia does the same thing with garbage hauling). Because they can exploit people who don't speak English and are afraid of the authorities. It gives them a legitimate job, but still makes them dependent.
Organized crime from the to the Hells Angels to the Fuk Ching aren't going to profit from the market for underage sex because - ?
Honor amongst thieves? A little murder and extortion is ok, but exploiting kids - whoa! we're not going to do that.
Bit too Hollywood there.

This seems to be one of those things that people don't want to believe. Not that it's everywhere or conducive to media spectacle, but it does need to be addressed.

There's little question in my mind we do need - as fourcheesemac sed - more social services. But there does need to be some law enforcement and some higher profile on this.
Very many communities do not want this kind of press. So it's easier to ignore it. Pretend it doesn't happen.
And when it does, very often not giving law enforcement adequate tools to deal with it, gets it swept further under the rug.
The system seems set up to fail in this regard.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:49 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


This resident of Portland Oregon and former social worker for at-risk teens tips his hat to metafilter writers who are checking sources, applying logic and calling foul on these mainstream media reports. Problems exist, but not as the mainstream reports. False reporting of problems can lead to false solutions. Factchecking as occurring here is what saves lives.
posted by eccnineten at 6:38 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


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