California: Stop Jailing Underage Sex Workers

Target:  California State Legislature

Goal: Protect children involved in prostitution by making jail time illegal

Everyday children in America are sexually assaulted and then put in jail for these crimes against them.  Why?  Because money is involved.  We all know that children grow up dreaming of becoming scientists, artists, doctors, musicians, and lawyers.  No child grows up wanting to be a prostitute.  Yet thousands of American children are. Protect child prostitutes in the United States and ask Congress to make it illegal to arrest and jail children in prostitution.

Though the exact number of child prostitutes in the U.S. is not known, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report data analyzed by Snyder and Sickmund (2006) shows that 1,400 juveniles were arrested nationally in 2003 for prostitution and commercialized vice.  The actual number of child prostitutes is arguably much higher than this statistic; many child prostitutes are never caught, and reporting is voluntary with only 17,000 agencies participating nationally.  Even so, 1,400 children arrested for prostitution is 1,400 too many.  They are the victims, and they should not be jailed for a crime that they are usually forced or manipulated into.

Hungry and broke, without food or shelter, a pimp promises a “home”, food to eat, and a quasi-family setup (with the pimp as the father and other prostitutes as siblings).  According to Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner’s, “the majority of American victims of commercial sexual exploitation tend to be runaways or thrown away youth who live on the streets and then become victims of prostitution.”   Many are actually kidnapped and tortured and forced into prostitution by violent means using threats of physical harm or death.  Once they are in this violent world, they do not get out for fear of punishment and physical beatings.

In California, statutory rape is sex with anyone under the age of 18, a minor.  California views a minor as not having the mental capacity and understanding to consent to sex, even if verbally consented to.  Child prostitutes, because they are also under the age of 18, should be treated as victims under statutory rape laws and not as criminals.  Sign the petition below and convince the California State Legislature to extend statutory rape laws to include child prostitutes or to create a whole new bill protecting child prostitutes from prosecution.



Dear California State Legislature,

Protect our children and amend current statutory rape laws to include child prostitutes, or draft a new law protecting child prostitutes by making it illegal to arrest and throw them in jail. We need to send a strong message to the child-sex industry that we will protect our children and help them out of this abuse, not punish them.

Most child prostitutes are runaways that no longer have a home, family or means of support to help them out.  Putting them in jail just adds more risk to their already damaged psyche and sets them up for future problems in seeking employment.  Pimps and the men/women buying these children should be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law with jail time and assessed fines, but not the child.  They should not be arrested and jailed for engaging in a criminal activity that they are forced or manipulated into.

Protect these children and take a stand against the abusive and vicious system of prostitution by drafting and passing a law that refuses to jail child prostitutes who are truly victims or amend current statutory rape laws to include them.  Let California be known for furthering children’s and sexual victim’s rights and proudly lead the way for other state legislatures to follow in its footsteps.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Flickr via kthompsonstudios


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