To curb child prostitution, target the buyers

In February 2001, one of Atlanta’s most notorious pimps was sentenced to 22 years in prison after a Fulton County jury found him guilty of prostituting a 12-year-old girl. At the time, it was hailed as a breakthrough for the region.

On Monday, an Atlanta man was convicted of molesting and raping his own stepdaughter, and pimping her and other minors over telephone “chat lines” and at booze-and-drug-fueled sex parties. He got three life sentences plus 87 years.

We may be making progress.

For years, the FBI has considered Atlanta a hub for the child sex trade. But treating child prostitution as a real problem, and not some kind of victimless crime, is relatively new.

Before, “there certainly wasn’t a sense that they were children that were still needing society’s protection. And now we’ve changed that,” says Kaffie McCullough, campaign director of A Future Not a Past, a statewide project of the Juvenile Justice Fund.

“So, I think it speaks to an entire redefinition, where the people who are getting punished are the ones doing the exploiting, that seeking [sexual] pleasure from a child as an adult is not right.”

Law enforcement’s stepped-up efforts to prosecute pimps appear to be having an effect. The number of underage girls prostituted in a month statewide declined from a peak of 492 in February to 353 in August, according to the latest estimate from the Governor’s Office for Children and Families.

If that number is to keep falling, we have to move beyond going after only the pimps. We must take on the buyers, too.

Georgia law on the purchasers of child sex — “I’ve stopped even calling them ‘johns,’ because I think that is a term from the past that sort of makes it seem OK,” McCullough says — is adequate. But circumstances sometimes make it difficult to catch or prosecute buyers.

So, a big part of the strategy is educating the community about the prevalence of minors among prostitutes. (Child advocates tend to stay away from the question of prostitution more broadly, focusing only on minors.)

Fortunately, some fresh research tells us more than ever about the buyers in Georgia.

Researchers posing as phone operators, fielding responses to a fake online advertisement for young females, spoke to more than 200 men seeking to buy sex in metro Atlanta last fall. The researchers extrapolated that figure to the broader population and believe some 7,200 men in Georgia pay for sex with underage girls each month.

But only 3 to 4 percent of buyers say they’re looking for girls under 18. Most men, the researchers wrote in a report, “either don’t know or are willing to ignore the possibility that they are having sex with an adolescent female.” That word “ignore” seems key: 47 percent of the men they interviewed were willing to proceed even after three escalated warnings that the girl might be a minor.

And while many people think of child prostitution, and the sex trade generally, as an urban problem, two-thirds of the men were suburbanites, including 42 percent from northern OTP counties.

That last fact may explain part of the public’s reluctance to confront the problem of buyers. When a large chunk of the buyers are upper-middle to upper-class white men, McCullough says, “it changes the conversation.

“As a society, we’re going to see if we really mean it when we say that we don’t want our kids to be abused. There will probably be some people caught in those nets that are going to be embarrassing.”

Of course, it’s much more than embarrassing to be a child whose body is sold by and to adults who know better.

67 comments Add your comment

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
7:04 pm

“To curb child prostitution, target the buyers”

Sweet, let’s go after the democrats!

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
7:05 pm

By the way Kyle, looks like the “unelectable” Rubio just opened a can of whoop a$$ on Crist and the other democrat.

Tea Party Republican has big lead in Florida

Republican candidate Marco Rubio has opened a clear lead in a Florida Senate race, becoming the latest Tea Party favorite to benefit from voter anger at Washington, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Wednesday.

Six weeks before November 2 congressional elections, Rubio leads state Governor Charlie Crist, an independent, by 40 percent to 26 percent among likely voters, the poll found. Democrat Kendrick Meek trails at 21 percent.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE68E55P20100915

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 15th, 2010
7:07 pm

“As a society, we’re going to see if we really mean it when we say that we don’t want our kids to be abused. There will probably be some people caught in those nets that are going to be embarrassing.”

So let’ em be embarrassed. They deserve that and more.

maggie

September 15th, 2010
7:18 pm

cair, you blog like a molestor, I feel sorry for your neighbors…

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
7:23 pm

“cair, you blog like a molestor, I feel sorry for your neighbors…”

I blog like what? Oh that’s right, you can’t spell the word that you called me. HAHAHAHAHAHA

marko

September 15th, 2010
7:25 pm

Not A bad idea Kyle. By the same token the best to go after illegal immigration to go after their employers.

arnold

September 15th, 2010
7:26 pm

You go after the buyers just as you go after the employers who hire illegal immigrants. Both problems can be solved the same way. Why hasn’t it been done before? The Obama administration has been cracking down on employers. Maybe the law enforcement should start really cracking down on the buyers of child prostitution.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
7:27 pm

Oh goody, maggie has stolen my blog handle.

Well, nice knowing you mags!

tick..tick..tick….

@@

September 15th, 2010
8:19 pm

Kyle:

I don’t care who they are, what race they are, or where they live. I say give the pimps and buyers, over to ol’ sparky. What greater crime is there than that of violating a child.

Disgusting!

Kyle Wingfield

September 15th, 2010
8:23 pm

Maggie, I don’t tolerate handle-stealing. You’re off the blog for awhile.

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
8:32 pm

@@

How you doin?

@@

September 15th, 2010
8:33 pm

I’m well, and you?

John Franklin Mc

September 15th, 2010
8:56 pm

7,200 a month for just underage girls seems extremely high. That’s a subset of those seeking prostitutes. The actual prostitution number is at least double that and that’s not counting multiple occurances.

If its that prevalent, why not legalize and regulate prostitution? Make the women have licenses, proof of age, and frequent STD testing, and zone them so that they can only be in commerical business parks and not around neighborhoods. Have law enforcement frequently check them for illegal girls.

Then we could come on even harder with the law. For instance, if you solicit a prostitute outside of the legal parlors, you get 1 year probation. If you get caught with an underage girl, knowingly or not you get 1 year in jail minimum. If you get caught pimping a underage girl, you get life with no parole.

I’m sure this would never get passed, but there isn’t another way to really protect the underaged. We don’t have enough police, and its been a problem for a long time showing that we aren’t really stopping it. If getting caught cost you your job, your freedom, and a listing on the sex offenders list, that may be enough to deter men. I’d even be for more draconian sentencing as long as there is a legal avenue for people to follow.

@@

September 15th, 2010
8:56 pm

How YOU doin?

Reminds me of my cajun neighbor.

How YOU doin?

CAIR Bears

September 15th, 2010
9:26 pm

“Reminds me of my cajun neighbor.”

Speaking of cajun, you should check out Swamp People on History Channel. AWESOME.

Peter

September 15th, 2010
11:55 pm

Amazing story when the “REPUBLICAN Candidate ” for Governor, is facing personal Financial problems………

Let us all skirt the issues……..

Back to topic……..

Who are these Guys who buy the Girls Kyle.. ?

Did you do a Demographic………beside very “SICK”…… upper middle class “White” implies MONEY…..??????

Quote……

That last fact may explain part of the public’s reluctance to confront the problem of buyers. When a large chunk of the buyers are upper-middle to upper-class white men, McCullough says, “it changes the conversation.

Are these Red neck Republican’s ?????? The Good ol Boys we hear about ??????

I am confused about this……. Cause……

Democrats are too busy saving the planet with all those stupid automobiles, solar power, giving away money to the poor, the needy, the homeless,……………..and dealing with gay rights !

iRun

September 16th, 2010
5:35 am

First, when it comes to Cajuns…be careful…don’t make fun of my people. My husband is Cajun (though you might not realize it until he says “fork” as “fark”) and by default, so is my son.

Second, can we talk about the topic at hand, which is human trafficking?

If the USA would get past it’s draconian laws regarding sex as commerce I do think we could fix a lot of this because we could regulate it as public health service. Stop thinking with your bible for a moment and you can see what I am talking about.

So while the sale of sex should be legalized and regulated, much like piercings and tattoos and salons and nail salons and spas and chiropractors are, the sale of CHILD sex should ALWAYS be illegal.

And once you legitimize the sale of sex it will be much easier to keep these children from being trafficked.

Afterall, trafficking of people is almost always done, initially, by someone they’re related to, usually the parents. Not the pimp.

barking frog

September 16th, 2010
5:52 am

The social or economic status of child molesters should
not be a factor considered in their prosecution. Pimps
of children should be executed.

Bravesfan79

September 16th, 2010
5:57 am

I spent many years working Fulton Industrial and other high prostitution areas. The Pimps are the ones we must continue to go after with tougher laws! 10 years in jail for a pimp isnt enough! These guys are the lowest of the low. They should be made sterile, and given life in prison.
These girls are runaways usually, where they meet a “man” on the street who takes them in, gains their trust, then rapes/beats them to take away their self-esteem, gets them addicted to hard drugs like crack/ herion/ meth, and sells them to other men. Starting with his own homies.

itpdude

September 16th, 2010
6:26 am

There’s a lot of failure going on with this matter. These girls are likely runaways or castaways from families who cannot afford them or don’t want them. Targeting the buyers seems to be a rational first step, no matter who is doing the buying.

Ayn Rant

September 16th, 2010
6:49 am

As you see from the comments, Kyle, there’s little demand for informative articles on a serious subject.

Journalism doesn’t sell. People want pig-drool politics and lie-drenched revilement, not wisdom and fact. Russ Limburger and the Fox News propagandists make millions from it; so can you, but you gotta get a gimmick.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

September 16th, 2010
6:49 am

A few writers above suggest the pimps are somehow worse than the johns. Betraying my naiveté on the subject, why are pimps worse?

carlosgvv

September 16th, 2010
7:39 am

Kyle, to the best of my knowledge, having sex with a minor is illegal. Are you saying white men get a pass on this? If so, it’s news to me and apparently will be news to all the other media since I haven’t heard a word from them.

Churchill's MOM

September 16th, 2010
7:53 am

iRun 5:35 am

Other than your choice in husbands, I agree with you. If prostitution was legal & regulated the problem would go away.

Aquagirl

September 16th, 2010
8:09 am

Kyle, this would have been a bit more timely back when the right-wing yahoos were fighting child advocacy groups. It was utterly disgusting to see so-called christians (the Georgia Baptist Convention among others) say the *children* should be arrested.

What ever happened to H.B. 582/ S.B. 304? Were your wingnut friends successful in persecuting the 14 year olds, Kyle? Are they still hiding from cops and running back to their pimps?

j

September 16th, 2010
8:12 am

kyle child prostitution are you serious? who cares unless it is your child?

Why not just shut down the cult called christianity since those male priests seem to be incapable of keeping their hands away from little boys.

let’s talk about that bozo deal who is running for governor. that clueless sob is totally unqualified to be in charge of this state. he pissed away 2 million dollars of his wealth simply because he was too dumb to realize what was happening and he couldn’t tell his daughter to get a job and stop dreaming.

Deal is simply an idiot who is only capapble of showing up for work everyday. that’s all he is good at, being present.

Barnes is now a lock.

LeeH1

September 16th, 2010
8:33 am

“To curb child prostitution, target the buyers”

Sweet, let’s go after the Republicans!

LeeH1

September 16th, 2010
8:36 am

“To curb child prostitution, target the buyers”

Actually, the Tea Party and the Liberarians want to legalize prostitution, but not to tax it. Let the entrepreneurs keep their income. It’s their money!

The social conservatives want to stop it- the fiscal conservatives want a free market.

Jefferson Jackson

September 16th, 2010
8:56 am

Here’s a question: Are we in fact growing more tolerant of sex crimes against children? There is a national group which lobbies (so far unsuccessfully) for a lessening in the restrictions on sex between men and adolescent boys. It is called the North American Man-Boy Love Association. While to date they have been pretty much ignored, there is a history (over the past thirty or so years) of so-called “fringe groups” growing stronger and stronger, so much so that many have enterd the main stream of American political and social thought (PETA, Transgender Groups, etc.) If the social and political history of post-WW II America tells us anything, it is that we are quickly moving towards a society that will tolerate pederasty in the guise of “civil rights.”

Kyle Wingfield

September 16th, 2010
9:28 am

John Franklin Mc: The 7,200 figure may sound high — and it is an estimate, not a precise count by any means — but it represents more than half of the number of all men believed to be seeking prostitutes in Georgia (which is estimated at something like 12,000). The point being: Underage girls represent a disproportionate share of prostitutes, probably because they’re easier for pimps to control.

Jefferson

September 16th, 2010
9:34 am

Target the parents.

Kyle Wingfield

September 16th, 2010
9:34 am

carlosgvv: No, I’m not saying white men get a pass on statutory rape — which is what you seem to be talking about, and not exactly what I’m talking about (although it is included within the problem of child prostitution).

What I’m saying is that the buyers of sex — regardless of race — tend to get away with it because it so often is difficult to catch them. But McCullough and I are also suggesting that one hurdle to cracking down on buyers may be a fear that some prominent folks — of any color but, given the research findings about the buyers’ places of residence, probably including a lot of upper-class white men — would end up getting arrested. (Fwiw, I’m not saying *I* fear that…I think we should arrest any and all of them.)

CAIR Bears

September 16th, 2010
9:35 am

“Sweet, let’s go after the Republicans!”

But Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat.

Kyle Wingfield

September 16th, 2010
9:38 am

Aquagirl: I did write about it back then: http://blogs.ajc.com/kyle-wingfield/2010/02/05/change-the-law-to-protect-sexually-exploited-children/

As for what happened to the bill(s): Some people have legitimate concerns that police wouldn’t have the authority to detain child prostitutes without having something to charge them with, even if the girls didn’t end up being prosecuted — particularly if the law is changed before adequate programs and facilities are in place to send them. From what I hear, it’s unlikely that the bill(s) will come up again in the next session, and more likely that the people who promoted it this year will focus on those other matters first.

Kyle Wingfield

September 16th, 2010
9:43 am

j: I think your “who cares unless it is your child” attitude is deplorable and disgusting. But then again, so is your linking this issue to Christianity, given that there are more men in Georgia exploiting child prostitutes every *month* (7,200) than there were American priests abusing children over the course of *half a century* (4,392, according to the John Jay Report).

Kyle Wingfield

September 16th, 2010
9:45 am

Jefferson Jackson: From a law-enforcement perspective, I think the opposite is true. Police and prosecutors are increasingly cracking down on this problem…they just need to go further.

Kyle Wingfield

September 16th, 2010
9:45 am

Ayn Rant: And yet so many people tell us they want the opposite…

Kyle Wingfield

September 16th, 2010
9:47 am

OTOH, Ayn, you should never judge a topic or post simply by the number of comments…the best month I ever had for readers on this blog was one of my worst ever months for comments. There is no strict correlation between the two.

Horrible Horace

September 16th, 2010
9:51 am

The sooner these child molesters/Democrats are behing bars the better.

Aquagirl

September 16th, 2010
10:12 am

Oh, yeah, and I commented on that column Kyle. Man, old age is not good for the brain. Plus, you should be careful about disagreeing with the Sadie Fields crowd, I obviously mistook you for a liberal.

It’s still a shame child advocates and the “christian right” were on different sides of that bill. Arresting children for prostitution when they aren’t even able to CONSENT to sex? Of course the christian right is all for that—makes me wonder if it isn’t for the nasty reason you mention: those wingnuts are the ones using child prostitutes. The last thing they want is those kids giving their names up to the police. Better to keep them scared and quiet.

How about looking into the local illegal immigration/prostitution connection? There’s another area where some conservatives bash the victims while likely sampling the wares.

Kyle Wingfield

September 16th, 2010
10:30 am

Aquagirl: I would say the “Christian right” is split over this issue. Many of the umbrella groups opposed the bill(s) — some for the legitimate reason I outlined above, some for other reasons — but a large number of churches are working with other groups that supported the legislation. And it would be wrong for someone to label them as only “liberal” churches.

I don’t think this is a particularly partisan or politically ideological problem or debate.

Brad

September 16th, 2010
10:41 am

“I don’t think this is a particularly partisan or politically ideological problem or debate.”

It shouldn’t be Kyle, but look at these posts. The level of discourse has hit rock bottom.

Rap Star

September 16th, 2010
11:06 am

I be pimpin’ hos…

j

September 16th, 2010
11:11 am

no one cares just as no one cares about the death of people we don’t know. It’s reality, you need to get out sometime kyle.

There are about 8 millin people in georgia do you know what percentage 7k is of that? no one cares buddy, it’s just a rounding error and Darwinism at work.

You must have forgotten to take your meds this morning because this is not a problem.

don’t let me get started with those religious cults be it christianity, islam, or judaism. etc. etc.

Question Authority

September 16th, 2010
11:12 am

If adult prostitution was legalized the problem of child prostitution would certainly decline. But our paternalistic rulers do not believe that a person should own their own body and be free to do with it what they want so long as they are not hurting anyone else.

Freeing child labor for other activities would also go a long way, but here too we force children into illegal activities such as prostitution because we make reasonable, legitimate jobs unavailable through ridiculous labor and tax laws.

Until we restore freedom to our society, we will suffer all of these expected consequences.

Brad

September 16th, 2010
11:26 am

It’s a problem for the children, j, and while you may not care, many do.

Aquagirl

September 16th, 2010
11:30 am

Kyle, it shouldn’t be…..but then that’s not the attitude of Sadie Fields, the Christian Coalition of Georgia, The Georgia Baptist Convention, et al. The “Christian Right” is split over this issue? What major group touting family values supported H.B. 582? It looked like a virtual “who’s who” of that bunch lined up against it. If you count insane and feverish fantasies as legitimate reasons to oppose it, that’s your call. I don’t give people passes for such idiocy when it harms kids.

Kyle Wingfield

September 16th, 2010
11:35 am

Aquagirl: Did you read what I wrote at 9:38 outlining the “legitimate concerns”? I don’t see how they qualify as “insane and feverish fantasies.”

CAIR Bears

September 16th, 2010
11:42 am

Aquagirl

I’m always interested to know why the left, like you, blame churches for prostitution but don’t lay any blame on the people who actually sell children into slavery.

Churches have no power to end prostitution and the only thing they can do is to volunteer to help victims and pray.

Go take your issues up with the federal department.

CAIR Bears

September 16th, 2010
11:43 am

“If adult prostitution was legalized the problem of child prostitution would certainly decline.”

And you get that info from what study?