The Conversation: Child Sex Trade in Portland, Ore.

ABC's Sharyn Alfonsi previews "World News" piece about the 82nd Avenue strip.

ByABC News
September 22, 2010, 7:18 AM

Sept. 22, 2010— -- Though Portland, Ore., is considered one of the most livable cities in the U.S., it also has a reputation as the national hub for child sex trafficking.

In today's Conversation, ABC's Diane Sawyer and Sharyn Alfonsi talked about Alfonsi's trip to Portland and why middle-class children are getting recruited in a city with the largest legal commercial sex trade in the U.S.

Alfonsi visited the 82nd Avenue strip, also known as "The Track," where there are more than 100 massage parlors and strip clubs. She interviewed child victims, their parents and even the pimps.

One girl said she was forced into prostitution at the age of 13. She talked about dancing in a strip club and hating it. When she tried to leave, she said, she was told "not 'til your shift ends." She told Alfonsi that during the day she stripped and at night, she walked "The Track" as a prostitute.

A mother with a six-figure income told Alfonsi about trying to rescue her 16-year-old daughter, who had met a guy on public transportation.

"He [the pimp] would leave her out freezing in the cold," the mother said. "He would put her in shoes that were too small. He would make her have sex with all of his friends."

The mother spent her life's savings trying to persuade her daughter -- a onetime suburban high school student and star basketball player -- to leave.

Alfonsi told Sawyer that police were employing creative tactics to crack down on the problem, including fining the johns thousands of dollars and impounding their cars. She said authorities were also working hard to get the victims into shelters and off the streets.

For more on Alfonsi's piece, watch "World News" tonight.

Click here to watch more from the Conversation series.

Click here to return to the "World News" page.

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