Child Pimps Be Gone!
This weekend, the FBI launched its largest undercover operation to date: Operation Cross Country. For three days, agents scoured 76 cities and worked with more than 200 law enforcement units to crack down on child prostitution. And I am happy to say it was a huge success.
The federal sweep included 28 searches and nearly 130 seizures of drugs, cash, vehicles and firearms. By the time the smoke finally cleared, roughly 150 “pimps” had been arrested and 105 children between the ages of 13 and 17 had been rescued. According to Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, the seventh iteration of Operation Cross Country was the most successful due to a 30% to 40% increase in “identifying both victims and pimps,” as well as additional probing of websites where pimps and other sex predators are known to meet, such as www.backpage.com.
Please don’t check the site out for yourself, though. You never know who may be watching.
Whether or not you are aware of it, child prostitution is a growing problem in this country and around the world. The website Raise Their Voice, for instance, estimates that “10 million children worldwide are engaged in some facet of the sex industry” and that “each year at least one million children—mostly girls—become prostitutes.” The site also reports that in South Africa alone, there are at least 40,000 child prostitutes.
Instead of playing, having fun and going to school with friends, these poor kids are doing things no one should ever be forced to do. And the moment they enter a room with their first customer, any innocence they once possessed immediately disappears, never to return again. It truly is a heartbreaking fate for children so full of hope and potential, and one I am glad the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are determined to stop.
This weekend’s sting focused on specific places where child prostitution occurs—hotels, motels, race tracks, truck stops—as well as social networking and other websites where sex predators find and coerce their victims. Hosko also mentioned how major sporting events—like the Final Four and the Super Bowl—often attract pimps because of the large, cash-laden crowds of people determined to party at any cost.
“We have had children recovered from each of those events,” he said recently. “Multiple children from each of those events in the past.”
As I mentioned, Operation Cross Country recovered 105 children between the ages of 13 and 17, which is the typical age range that child pimps target. Isn’t that around the time that most teenagers start resisting their parents’ authority and lashing out? Yes it is, and that’s precisely what appeals to these lowlifes. Like vampires, they feed on feelings of loneliness and isolation, the need for acceptance and everything else common to the teenage experience. Oftentimes their victims come from broken homes, group homes or even foster care… children with no family ties and that no one will really miss, I’m sad to say.
Pimps exploit everything they can until they catch their prey, torture and abuse them, break their spirits and force them into sexual servitude. And for every child we recover, there are undoubtedly hundreds—maybe thousands—of others still engaged in child prostitution. Even now—somewhere in the world, the nation or even in your own neighborhood—some innocent child is being thrust into adulthood against her will, forced to perform indecent and immoral acts for the financial benefit of her pimp and initiated into a world of evil we all wish could be delayed indefinitely, if not forever.
To lend a hand in ending child prostitution—by taking action or donating to the cause—check out the U.S. or international sites for ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking), the leading policy organization in the fight against child exploitation. Do your part and someday, maybe everyone will have the chance to be a child again.
Posted on July 29, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged children, commentary, Crime and Justice, current-events, ECPAT, Family, FBI, news, Operation Cross Country, perspectives, Pimp, Prostitution of children, Super Bowl. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.