Crystal's Story

Most of the 14 young people currently living and attending school at Children of the Night, a nonprofit that helps child prostitutes get off the streets, were initially abused by their parents or caregivers.

Crystal, a 17-year-old from Phoenix, told that she had been sold for sex by her parents from the age of 5.

"I still remember the first time," she said. "I was 5 years old and my dad told me to wait in a special little room. I waited and this guy came. My dad told me to 'do to him what you do to me' and told the trick I was a virgin. I still dream about it all the time."

By the time Crystal was 9, her father would not allow her to attend school and prostituted her to men "almost every day."

She said, "He would beat me, tell me, 'you better go ho,'" slang for working the streets.

She said her father demanded she earn $700 a week, charging $80 for intercourse, $40 to 60 for oral sex and $120 for anal sex.

When Crystal was 10, her mother, a prostitute, died of AIDS and Crystal ran away from home. She was routinely picked up by the police and Child Protective Services who would return her to her father.

In and out of shelters and juvenile detention centers and working the streets for other pimps, Crystal epitomizes the plight of many child prostitutes.

"I'd try to get myself arrested just to get off the streets. … I kept hearing people say if you need help, tell somebody. But when I talked, my parole officer would tell me not to because the cops would use the information in court against me."

She arrived at Children of the Night earlier this year, one day before her 17th birthday.

"I want to see my father in prison. Children of the Night is working on talking to the FBI. I can't think about it too much. I just want to move on."

Today, Crystal said, she's "going to school for the first time in a long time" and working on her GED. She wants to go to college.

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