Three-day child prostitution sweep rescues 79 kids
Officials warn this is no guarantee children won't drift back into prostitution
Officers working together nationwide were able to rescue 79 children
from the clutches of prostitution. During the three-day sweep, 104
alleged procurers and pimps of under-aged girls were arrested. In spite
of this success, officials warn that this is no guarantee that these
rescued girls won't drift back into prostitution unless important social
issues in contemporary U.S. society are addressed.
Officials warn that this is no guarantee that these rescued girls won't drift back into prostitution unless important social issues in contemporary U.S. society are addressed.
FBI Acting Executive Assistant Director Kevin Perkins said the children law enforcement freed from their handlers ranged from 13 to 17 years old. One rescued teen claimed she entered prostitution when she was only 11 years old.
"Many times the children that are taken in these types of criminal activities are children that are disaffected, they are from broken homes, they may be on the street themselves -- they are really looking for a meal, they are looking for shelter, they are looking for someone to take care of them, and that's really the first approach that's made," Perkins says.
"Once the child has been taken out of harm's way, and then really the story just begins at that point," Perkins adds. "That's where the real work starts, where we have to call upon the community, various social welfare agencies, our own office of victim assistance has to work with each child on an individual basis to see what their requirements are.
"This is a very difficult task. These children are very damaged -- very harmed, and they need a great deal of help -- it's really taxing the social welfare agencies and it's something that, going forward, we need to pay particular attention to."
Given the fractured state of many U.S. homes - in addition to stressed-past-the-breaking-point social services and child welfare department - there is always the danger that these rescued girls, faced once again with no place to go, will return to the streets.
"A lot of these kids feel like they are in love, and therefore many of them will go back, so it's not only important that they get help, but they need a specialized kind of help," Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says.
Those who sexually exploit children for financial gain are engaged in organized crime and have business plans and strategies. Perkins says such criminals know their market and will move kids from state to state to service clients. These seasoned procurers use various methods, including the Internet to find at-risk kids. They also may find them at bus stations or truck stops and offer them help as a first step to winning their confidence.
Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative which was started in 2003, with 47 task forces and working groups. According to the FBI, many of the convictions have resulted in long prison sentences, including eight life terms.
It's estimated that as many as 100,000 U.S. teenagers drift into prostitution every year.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Child prostituion, sweep, pimps, Internet, social problems
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