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by Peter Moskos

May 27, 2011

What about the children!?!

Anybody who hears hears crap like "200,000 to 300,000 US youth are victims of sex trafficking" and believes it needs a tune-up in the department of B.S. detection. I don't know why people love to believe made up stats and then discount real ones that matter (eg: poverty, prison, homicide).

One headline read, "HUMAN TRAFFICKING INDUSTRY THRIVES IN PORTLAND METRO AREA." But when the reporter dug deeper:
She soon found an even bigger story: none of it was true.... In short, every single statistic that advocates and politicians had used to justify Portland’s label as a “hub” of child sex trafficking fell apart.
In City Pages, Nick Pinto looked at the methodology behind the "stats." It's a how-to in how not to do research. For instance, in trying to determine the scope of underage prostitutes, they looked at pictures of ads in the back of local newspapers. And then they guessed the age of girls in the picture. As to prostitution's increase, they counted online classifieds featuring "young women" over time. More adds meant more child prostitution. Then they threw terms like "random sample" and "balanced by race and gender" in the mix. Are you kidding me!?

Of course it's not like the people coming up with these numbers care about the truth ("think of the children!"):
It's now clear they used fake data to deceive the media and lie to Congress. And it was all done to score free publicity and a wealth of public funding.

"We pitch it the way we think you're going to read it and pick up on it," says Kaffie McCullough, the director of Atlanta-based anti-prostitution group A Future Not a Past. "If we give it to you with all the words and the stuff that is actually accurate--I mean, I've tried to do that with our PR firm, and they say, 'They won't read that much.'"
Despite these flaws, the Women's Funding Network, which held rallies across the nation, has been flogging [ed note: how dare they besmirch the good name of flogging!] the results relentlessly through national press releases and local member organizations. In press releases, the group goes so far as to compare its conjured-up data to actual hard numbers for other social ills.

"Monthly domestic sex trafficking in Minnesota is more pervasive than the state's annually reported incidents of teen girls who died by suicide, homicide, and car accidents (29 instances combined)."
The first defense of lies is common sense. Education comes a close second. And perhaps third is not taking moral ideologues too seriously.

Ultimately the answer to limiting the harms from prostitution is, oh, let me wind up the old Victrola and play that broken record: "legalize and regulate [skip] 'galize and regulate [skip] 'galize and regulate [skip] 'galize and regulate...." Man, where do I find these 78s?


HTA Council said...

Just an FYI, I don't think the numbers have been going down either.

244,000 – Number of American children and youth estimated to be at risk of child sexual exploitation, including commercial sexual exploitation, in 2000.
o Source: Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001. Study funded by the Department of Justice.

 38,600 – Estimated number of an approximate 1.6 million runaway/thrownaway youth at risk of sexual endangerment or exploitation in 1999.
o Source: U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Runaway/Thrownaway Children: National Estimates and Characteristics. NISMART Series: 2002.

PCM said...

And just what the hell does "at risk" mean?

Aren't there 300,000,000 at risk Americans?

PCM said...

I feel as though I'm at risk every time Gotti is in the same room as me!