Major kudos go to the federal agents and members of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children for their major success on Operation Cross Country. In just the past three days, almost 1,600 FBI agents and police officers have arrested 700 people who operated and patronized child sex rings in 36 cities around the country. Fifty-two children were rescued from their situations (the youngest 10 years old) where they were either forced or otherwise convinced to provide for the sexual needs of the perverts who frequented the houses, buildings, and rooms where they were kept virtual prisoners.
Operation Cross Country is part of a larger initiative called the Innocence Lost National Initiative which has been saving kids from child prostitution since 2003. So far Innocence Lost has rescued 900 children from prostitution and has sent 510 of the operators and front-line pimps to jail.
There are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of children still engaged in prostitution here in the United States. Some have been kidnapped and forced into prostitution, but the majority of them are runaways who were seduced into the child sex trade by promises of food, shelter, clothes, and protection.
According to an article in the UK Guardian:
Child welfare groups estimate that around 2 million children a year run away from home in the US, and that many of them are lured into prostitution or pornography to survive.
The justice department says there is an â€œepidemicâ€ of commercial sex activity among children living on the streets. It says more than half of street girls are engaged in prostitution, many of them beginning between 12 and 14 years old.
â€œPimp-controlled commercial sexual exploitation of children is linked to escort and massage services, private dancing, drinking and photographic clubs, major sporting and recreational events, major cultural events, conventions, and tourist destinations,â€ the department says.
â€œAbout one-fifth of these children become entangled in nationally organised crime networks and are trafficked nationally. They are transported around the United States by a variety of means: cars, buses, vans, trucks or planes, and are often provided counterfeit identification to use in the event of arrest.â€
The U.S Department of Justice confirms this in their Child Prostitution information page. An excerpt:
The majority of American victims of commercial sexual exploitation tend to be runaway or thrown away youth who live on the streets who become victims of prostitution. These children generally come from homes where they have been abused, or from families that have abandoned them, and often become involved in prostitution as a way to support themselves financially or to get the things they want or need.
Other young people are recruited into prostitution through forced abduction, pressure from parents, or through deceptive agreements between parents and traffickers. Once these children become involved in prostitution they are often forced to travel far from their homes and as a result are isolated from their friends and family. Few children in this situation are able to develop new relationships with peers or adults other than the person who is victimizing them.
Sadly, of the 700 people who were arrested in this latest sweep, only a minority of them will, in the end, be incarcerated. Many of the rescued children will refuse to testify against the men and women who functioned as their handlers because of pressure from their families or because they feel attached to them in a Stockholm Syndrome type of effect. Others will find legal loopholes or lenient judges and will be back out on the street plying their trade in just a short time. Our justice system is, on the whole, fair â€” even to those who donâ€™t deserve a fair justice system â€” and itâ€™s even more â€œfairâ€ to those who can afford the best lawyers.
Also of interest: