Teen Sex Slave Trade Hits Home

What Hornbeck endured is still a mystery, but authorities know that child prostitutes are subjected to constant sexual abuse. Yet public opinion often paints these girls as criminals. The first step towards ending the misery for the exploited is to recognize them for what they are: victims.

These girls come from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds. The common denominator is that they are vulnerable to predators. In fact, an estimated 80 to 95 percent of child prostitutes have a history of sexual abuse.

President Bush reauthorized the Trafficking Victims Protection Law in January 2006, strengthening the campaign against worldwide trafficking in people, especially the effort to combat the sex trade in the United States. This is headway in an effort to recognize domestic sex trafficking victims as legitimate crime victims in need of social services, and not just juvenile delinquent bad girls.

The Innocence Lost Initiative, a collaboration between the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has netted hundreds of arrests in both state and federal courts of pimps who prey on children.

For more information, visit www.gems-girls.org, www.missingkids.com, www.ecpat.net.

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