Councilmember Tim Burgess
Safe Haven for Prostituted Children Nearing Fundraising Goal
Seattle one of worst cities in nation for juvenile prostitution
SEATTLE – A unique Residential Recovery Program for Prostituted Children is nearing its first year fundraising goal of $700,000, Councilmember Tim Burgess announced today. The public-private partnership program will serve as many as 30 youth annually between 14 and 17 years old who are actively engaged in street or internet-based prostitution.
Statistics show that the Seattle area has become a nationwide center of activity for juvenile prostitution. A June 2008 report by cultural anthropologist Debra Boyer, PhD, estimated that 300 to 500 children are engaged in prostitution in King County, some as young as 13. Nationwide, FBI and local police operations this year have rescued more prostituted children in Seattle than in any other city.
“As a community we need to recognize that this is a serious problem that is getting worse,” Burgess said. “These children have been victimized by predatory pimps and johns and they need a safe haven and specialized support. Without a safe place for them to live and receive necessary treatment, they will get pulled right back into a life on the street that is violent and incredibly damaging to them and our community.”
Only three specialized programs serve prostituted children in the United States - in Los Angeles, New York and rural Georgia. Combined, they offer fewer than 50 beds. The Seattle program will be run by YouthCare, a local nonprofit organization serving runaway and homeless youth since 1974.
The two-year pilot program requires approximately $700,000 in annual funding. So far, $660,000 has been pledged for 2010 and 2011 and additional funds are being sought. The City of Seattle appropriated $150,000 and King County $100,000 in their 2010 budgets, Seattle’s Sex Industry Victim’s Fund will contribute $100,000 and United Way of King and Snohomish Counties will contribute $200,000. Individuals and foundations have committed $110,000 of support.
People interested in making tax-deductible donations to the program should mail checks to: City of Seattle Prostituted Children Rescue Fund, Human Services Department, P.O. Box 34215, Seattle, WA 98124-4215. Donor names will be part of the public record and subject to public disclosure.
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