Commercially Sexually Exploited Children
In Seattle - King County
Special local report
In June 2008, the Seattle Human Services Department released a special report it commissioned from Dr. Debra Boyer entitled "Who Pays the Price? Youth Involvement in Prostitution in Seattle." The report identified 238 specific individual children in King County (in 2007) who were involved in prostitution and noted that there are between 300 and 500 prostituted youth in King County today, and some are as young as 11.
Who Pays the Price? Report Recommendations
- Create a statewide network of safe housing programs which provide wrap around services for commercially sexually exploited youth.
- Create a community response plan involving a broad spectrum of responders and providers.
- Provide ongoing, comprehensive trainings to increase provider and responder knowledge and skills about how to identify, engage and better serve commercially sexually exploited youth.
- Address the contradictory legal status of youth involved in prostitution.
Prostituted youth are subjected to severe ongoing sexual, physical and psychological abuse at the hands of pimps and "johns" They also experience physical and mental health issues, and suffer from substance abuse and chemical dependency. Many prostituted youth are at increased risk for suicide and homicide. (Williamson and Prior, 2009).
Data from Atlanta's Angela House (one of a handful of residential recovery programs for prostituted children):
- 70% of the youth served during 2007 reported a history of childhood sexual abuse
- 86% reported significant substance abuse
- More than 50% of the girls displayed evidence of moderate or severe depression
- 86% had a history of criminal charges and incarceration
Gangs and Pimping
Not only is child sex trafficking a moral issue, it is a growing public safety issue. Fifteen years ago, gang activities were linked primarily with drug trafficking. It has now shifted. The newer revenue source for gangs is pimping girls.
The Seattle Police Department confirms that gangs are now running prostitutes (both adults and minors). The prostitutes engage in a host of criminal activities, which benefits their pimps and the gangs to which they belong. The structure of the pimp-prostitute relationship contributes to stubborn crime patterns in our community, such as petty theft, robbery, assault, drug dealing and chronic nuisance properties.
See the Seattle Times article about a convicted pimp.