A friend who used to report on T.V. news once told me that Dan Rather is one-of-a-kind — a bit of a windbag and a narcissist, but a man who sure as hell can cover the news. And the news Dan Rather is covering today is that we Americans are in denial about the rampant child sex trafficking which goes on in the country. Rather looked into the accusations of child sex trafficking and was shocked. How exactly do you shock a man who has been covering the news for nearly 60 years? Put him on the beat this blog covers every day.
In a recent expose, Rather calls Portland, Oregon, “Pornland, Oregon” because of the prolific legal and illegal commercial sex industry there. Alongside the strip clubs, sex shops, and adult women in prostitution, 10-, 11-, and 12-year-old girls are being bought and sold for sex. And while traditionally, these kids have come from the foster care system, run away from abusive homes, or been kicked out by negligent parents, the demographic of child sex trafficking victims in America is changing. More and more of the kids police are finding come from middle class homes in nice neighborhoods. They have concerned, involved parents. But still, they end up sucked into the world of forced prostitution.
How does it happen? Take the story of Sue and Ron, which you can watch on video here. Sue and Ron learned about child sex trafficking the hard way, when their 16-year-old daughter got sucked into the industry. At first, she came home from school with a boyfriend, a little older than her, but polite enough. He’d eat meals with her family and hang out at her house, like any normal teen relationship. But Sue was uneasy, and one day warned him that if he ever hurt her daughter, he’d have to pay. After that, the teens moved into his car, where he convinced Sue’s young daughter that the only way for them to be able to live together and survive, was for her to sell herself.
Perhaps the most disturbing quality of this story is the ease with which you could substitute Portland for any other city. Pimps pick up teen girls in shopping malls in Atlanta, Houston, San Diego, and Kansas City. They meet teens on Facebook and lure them from their homes in Toronto, Charlotte, Boise, and Buffalo. They recruit through schools, movie theaters, and rec centers all over the country. And these pimps recruit girls a young as 12 and 13 into prostitution because there is a long, long line of men willing to pay a premium to have sex with them.
Dan Rather is right — we are in the middle of a national epidemic. And we’re totally in denial that it exists.
Photo credit: Mario Pletierez