Every day, children all across the United States are bought and sold for sex. More than half of these children are girls and many, if not, most of them come from the foster care system. Despite not even being old enough to consent to sex - and despite the existence of federal law that defines them as victims of human trafficking, each year more than 1,000 American children are arrested for prostitution in the U.S.
But it is not only our legal system that treats abused and exploited children as child prostitutes. According to our research, there have been more than 5,000 instances in the past several years where media outlets have used the term “child prostitute” or similar terms like “child sex worker” to describe minors trafficked for sex.
Language matters. The message we send to young survivors when we continue to call them “prostitutes” and deny their victimization is that we don’t care about their truth and pain, or worse, that they are somehow complicit in their own victimization. And that is precisely why we at Rights4Girls launched the No Such Thing campaign last year— to erase the notion of “child prostitute” in both language and law and to ensure that survivors of child sex trafficking are accurately portrayed in the media.