CNN's Amber Lyon Ambushed Craigslist -- But She Won't Talk to The Village Voice

CNN leads the media's mass paranoia over a nonexistent epidemic

CNN's Amber Lyon Ambushed Craigslist -- But She Won't Talk to The Village Voice

I remember the last couple of mass panics. Do you?

There was the daycare scare of the 1980s, when we were told that child molesters had infiltrated childcare centers across the country. From the beginning of the panic, with the infamous McMartin Preschool trial (which ended in zero convictions), it should have been obvious that there was something hard to believe about the media reports of this nationwide crime epidemic.

Toddlers who had been hypnotized reported that they were being flown to Mexico to be sexually abused, killed, eaten, and then magically restored before Mom and Dad could pick them up (that is actual testimony from one particularly incredible trial that did, in fact, send a Texas couple to prison).

Gripped by mass fear, it took the public some time to wake up from that fever dream. About the same time, America was hyperventilating over another nonexistent threat: satanic cults that, experts swore, were sacrificing thousands of victims across America.

Remember that one? I'm sure Geraldo Rivera does.

We've panicked in other ways since those days, but if we tended to see terrorists everywhere after 9/11, at least there was vivid evidence that we had become a target.

But even that threat is fading. Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are receding fast from public consciousness. Our economy is gradually crawling back. Crime remains at record lows. A new presidential campaign is only in its earliest stages.

What's there to panic about today?

A small group of political activists is quite ready to provide the answer. In the second decade of the 21st century, we are being told that there's a widespread, growing, and out-of-control problem to fear in our country. And it has a catchy name: "trafficking."

In cities across America, we are told over and over, like a mantra, that "100,000 to 300,000" underage sex slaves have been stashed away from public view, with more joining them every day. It's a problem growing so quickly that the United States soon will be no better than Moldova or Nepal in regard to child sex trafficking. Why go to the Third World looking for this nightmare when our cities and suburbs are bursting with children in bondage?

Feel that panic in your chest? Must have been what Geraldo experienced. Now, step back and take a deep breath.

As we showed in our cover story last week, the newest panic is like the ones that preceded it—an emotional reaction, based on good intentions, but grounded in bogus information.

The actual data behind this "epidemic" is wanting in the extreme. It involves guesses by activist professors, junk science by nonprofit groups trying to extract money from Congress, and manipulation by religious groups hiding their real agendas about sex work.

And one of the most visible enablers in this national fantasy has been young CNN reporter Amber Lyon.

Lyon is best known for ambushing Craigslist founder Craig Newmark last year, questioning him about what are known as "adult ads." At the time, Craigslist was heavy with such ads. Having cornered the timid Newmark—who has told people he's a borderline Asperger's case—it didn't take much for the aggressive Lyon to reduce Newmark to catatonia with her questions about Craigslist's facilitating the enslavement of young girls across the country.

Under pressure by the attorneys general of several states, Newmark initiated a lawsuit in South Carolina, which he won. (In fact, he won every time he went to court.) But facing the further pressure of congressional hearings about its sex ads, Craigslist dropped its adult sections last fall. (You can still find the ads on the site, if you know where to look.)

Lyon has been known to tell people that her ambush of the meek Newmark resulted in the shuttering of "the Walmart of child sex trafficking." Now, she has set out to take down a new target: Village Voice Media.

Seven years ago, the people I work for were smart enough to start Backpage.com, a competitor to Craigslist. While other newspapers were doing little more than publicly condemning Newmark for the way Craigslist has, for years, eaten into their classified-ads revenue, we decided to fight back. That's just how we operate.

Backpage.com has since inherited some of the adult business that left Craigslist. The Village Voice itself has been taking such ads since the mid-1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, the adult business was a large part of the paper. Today, it's a smaller presence in the print edition, and the Voice's website has no adult advertising—that business appears only at Backpage.com.

Backpage.com is not a newspaper. It's an Internet bulletin board where people can place ads for anything from rental apartments to bicycles to lawnmowers. And, yes, it's a place where adults can post notices so that other adults can contact them.

What happens when two adults find each other through Backpage.com? I couldn't tell you. The whole point of Backpage.com is that we aren't involved after two consenting adults find each other through the community bulletin board, which exists solely so that people can freely express themselves—sometimes in ways that make other people uncomfortable. We're First Amendment extremists that way. Always have been.

We've spent millions of dollars putting in place strict policies and monitoring services to make sure that it is only adults finding each other through Backpage.com's adult pages. Not only do we have security specialists making constant searches for keywords that might indicate an underage user, but we're quick to cooperate with law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children when we find suspicious ads. In some cases, our reports about suspicious ads have resulted in underage runaways being traced and recovered—as opposed to the underground economy of bus stations and street corners where kids are truly invisible.

Backpage's 123 employees, who screen about 20,000 ads every day, alert NCMEC when they find something suspicious, who in turn contacts law enforcement. That process triggered 230 reports last month. For more on how quickly and often Backpage reports problems, see Caleb Hannan's story at our sister paper, Seattle Weekly.

Underage prostitution is a persistent problem in this country, but as we established in last week's cover story, it exists at a level that is nothing like what is being trumpeted by Amber Lyon on the behalf of activists who want to put us out of business. Lyon and other journalists—even the New York Times—may repeat uncritically the figure of "100,000 to 300,000" underage prostitutes, but as we showed last week, that number is based on a flimsy study by a couple of activist professors who included in that figure runaways (most of whom are back home in a week) and any teen who happens to live near an international border, supposedly putting them "at risk."

Using official law enforcement data, we showed that underage prostitution arrests are closer to 800 per year for the entire country—a number that has not increased over the past decade. Far from a widespread and rapidly growing problem, this is, instead, a small problem that stays about the same size because its underlying causes—drug addiction and teen homelessness—are not targeted with federal funds the way scaremongering is.

In December, we sent information to CNN about what we're doing to keep Backpage.com's adult pages for adults only as Amber Lyon prepared a sensationalistic piece about the mythic hundreds of thousands of underage American sex slaves, for whom she wanted us to appear responsible.

When her piece aired in February, however, this is what Lyon said: "What is [Backpage.com's] holistic plan? We don't know because [Backpage.com security adviser] Hemu Nigam wouldn't talk to us."

We subsequently pointed out to CNN that we had, in fact, provided Lyon with a two-page, single-spaced data sheet about what we're doing to keep underage users out of Backpage.com's adult pages. In a later rebroadcast of her piece about us, her legal department forced Lyon to tack on this correction: "Backpage.com sent us a statement in late December saying, 'Backpage.com is committed to preventing those who are intent on misusing the site for illegal purposes.' And they went on to say that they implemented new safety measures to that end, which are listed on the company blog. There is evidence these measures have had some results. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Backpage reported 30 suspicious ads in 2010. And in the first month of 2011, they reported 65."

Well, that was something. But Lyon's reporting has been manipulative, at best. When you watch her special, "Selling the Girl Next Door," it should be obvious that Lyon is less interested in learning how Backpage.com actually operates than she is in making viewers squirm about sex. In one segment, she talks to the women working at a legal brothel in Nevada. In another, she talks to men who are undergoing counseling for paying for sex—none of them with underage girls. Each of these segments is intended simply to make viewers see sex work in the worst possible light. And that's no accident.

At the end of her broadcast, Lyon's sources are singled out for "special thanks." The list includes several Atlanta-area foundations, deep in the Bible Belt, that have done as much as anyone to create the current panic about a nonexistent epidemic of sexual slavery.

We recently found out that Lyon is even closer to these groups than you could tell from a list at the end of her broadcast.

It's not unusual for reporters, after working with helpful sources, to feel that they've become friends. It's happened to me and just about every other journalist I know. But as professionals, we know that it's important to keep some distance from the sources we rely on for information.

Someone forgot to mention that to Lyon, apparently.

On May 4, FAIR Fund, one of the sources thanked in CNN's special, held a fundraiser in Washington's City Tavern Club.

The event's emcee was Amber Lyon, and she didn't seem at all uncomfortable helping a source raise money. We know because we sent a reporter to watch and videotape her performance.

"Hello, everyone, and thank you all for coming tonight to 'Pearls of Purpose.' And my name is Amber Lyon, and I'm an investigative and documentary reporter with CNN. This is just an amazing gala and an amazing way to really celebrate the empowerment of young girls all around the world," she said to the gathered crowd.

It wouldn't be a Lyon appearance without the required mantra: "Somewhere around, anywhere from, 100,000 to 300,000 American children are being trafficked," she told her audience. "It's an honor to be here tonight hosting this. I'm definitely proud to be supporting FAIR Fund."

I emailed Lyon, asking her to explain how she could help a source raise money while continuing to use it as a source for stories. I was also curious how much money her event had raised, with tickets ranging from $125 to $250 a plate.

"We are declining your request for an interview" is how she responded.

That surprised me. Lyon clearly has ridden her fame for how bravely she stood up to mild-mannered Craig Newmark. I didn't expect her to duck some straight questions about her involvement in a semireligious crusade.

Meanwhile, CNN has made trafficking its pet issue. The problem is, the network seems to draw almost no distinction from what Demi Moore finds in Nepal and what is actually happening here in the United States. That's just bad journalism. But it's what happens when an organization takes on a cause, regardless of the facts.

tortega@villagevoice.com

| @VoiceTonyO
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80 comments
ephyle
ephyle

This is just lies, honestly none of it is true. Its not just main stream media and Hollywood stats that recognize this as a major societal problem, but the government and academics as well. http://www.aljazeera.com/progr...http://www.breakingfree.net/re...http://www.prostitutionresearc...http://www.prostitutionresearc...http://www.mngirlsnotforsale.o...http://www.acf.hhs.gov/traffic...None of these are main stream media, and all are academically credible and all provide GOOD information on sex trafficking

Strider01
Strider01

Poor, poor Village Voice. It gets accused of profiting from abuse, so it resorts to defending itself with conflict-of-interest pieces that undermine the veracity its attackers' data . . . so that we will ostensibly absolve the Voice of it's business practices! You know, no harm, no foul.

I have no doubt that the statistics used by the organizations named in previous pieces are faulty. I have no doubt that the Hollywood-charity-PR machine described is disingenuous and self-serving in its reliance on poor information. I have no doubt that the politics that produced this criticism of VVM are conservative indeed, and likely to encourage fear-mongering rather than addressing the underlying social causes of this problem, or offer true help for the victims. The Voice loves to present critical journalism of this kind, and some its writers are very good at it indeed.

However, there is such a thing as journalistic integrity. For the Voice to offer ANY pieces on this topic without addressing the obvious editorial bias at stake is likewise irresponsible, despicable, ridiculous, and reflects outlandishly poor judgment. That it thinks its readers will overlook this implies a disrespect for the intelligence of any one who can see how much VVM has to benefit (in term of its bottom line!) from editorial choices aimed at persuading its readership to consider this as a less-than-extreme problem.

Yes, there is such a thing as reactionary, dishonest fear-mongering around social issues. But the Village Voice editorship has shown us that when this happens you can always respond in as self-serving a way as possible, and thereby squander the legitimacy of any voice you have in the discourse.

ErikJay
ErikJay

They didn't need convictions to RUIN THE McMARTIN FAMILY. Outrageous case. And these morons stoking another moral panic with bogus figures? Liars. Ashton and Demi are making the rounds of the talk shows retailing the same falsehoods. Absolute hogwash.

Jeff Lewis
Jeff Lewis

Sex Trafficking/Slavery is used by many groups as a attempt to outlaw all prostitution around the world by saying that all women are victims even if they do it willing. This hurts any real victims because it labels all sex workers as victims.

This is done by the media, aid groups, NGO’s, feminists, politicians, and religious organizations that receive funds from the government, and get paid high salaries. There are very strong groups who promote that all adult women who have sex are victims even if they are willing, enjoy it and go out of there way to get it. These groups try to get the public to believe that no adult women in their right mind would ever go into the sex business unless she was forced to do so, weather she knew it or not. They say that 100% of all sex workers are trafficking victims. They do this in order to label all men as sex offenders and wipe out all consensual prostitution. Which is what their real goal is. There is almost no one who challenges or questions them about their false beliefs. Therefore, the only voices you hear are of these extreme groups. These groups want to label all men as terrible sex offenders for seeing a willing adult sex worker. No one stands up to say this is foolish, the passive public says nothing. These groups even say that all men who marry foreign women are terrible sex predators who take advange of these “helpless foreign women wives”.These groups believe that two adults having consensual sex in private should be outlawed. Since they believe that it is impossible for a man to have sex with a woman without abusing the woman in the process.

Here is a good website about this:

www.bebopper76.wordpress.com/

Anonymous Escort
Anonymous Escort

Honestly, legalize prostitution and regulate it. It will cut down on a lot of this crap. The media needs to hype stuff like this up otherwise they would have no ratings and people won't watch their channels. It's a shame so many of the Sheeple believe so easily what they see on TV.

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Coz
Coz

Lyon sounds like she needs to get laid.

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Jeff Lewis
Jeff Lewis

According to the media hype There was supposed to be hundreds of thousands of under age child sex slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with super bowl fans. At the Dallas Super Bowl 2011.WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM?????WHERE ARE THE THOUSANDS OF SUPER BOWL KIDNAPPED FORCED CHILD SEX SLAVES???????Politicians, women's groups, police and child advocates were predicting that up to 100,000 hookers would be shipped into Dallas for the Super Bowl.

It was all a big lie told by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, government officials, and various anti-prostitution groups: Traffick911, Not for Sale, Change-org, Future Not A Past, Polaris Project, Salvation Army, Women's Funding Network, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation, which are anti-prostitution groups that tell lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries, and get huge amounts of money into their organizations. As proved in the links below:

Top FBI agent in Dallas (Robert Casey Jr.) sees no evidence of expected spike in child sex trafficking:

“Among those preparations was an initiative to prevent an expected rise in sex trafficking and child prostitution surrounding the Super Bowl. But Robert Casey Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, said he saw no evidence that the increase would happen, nor that it did.“In my opinion, the Super Bowl does not create a spike in those crimes,” he said. “The discussion gets very vague and general. People mixed up child prostitution with the term human trafficking, which are different things, and then there is just plain old prostitution.”

http://www.dallasnews.com/spor...

This myth of thousands or millions of underage sex slaves tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in.

Brian McCarthy isn't happy. He's a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he's forced to hear why his customers are adulterers and child molesters. Brian McCarthy says the sport/super bowl sex slave story is a urban legend, with no truth at all.These anti-prostitution groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies.

http://sextraffickingtruths.bl...

Josef Klus
Josef Klus

Just perused your sex trafficking article that (via multiply repetitive graphics) equates child arrests with the numbers on the street; and which, in my opinion, is supportive of child prostitution. LA Weekly's position as a sex advocate makes sense judging from the massage and prostitution ads in the back of the paper that help supports the publication. Sad, that your newspaper needs to attack celebrities and others in this town trying to do some good. Helping moral values and the defenseless, that's what real men do. Your report, it's a shame...

The Truth
The Truth

Sex trafficking is illegal and the pentities are very severe. It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity.

They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. They would need to prevent the general public from reporting them into the police. This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare. These criminals would be breaking dozens of major laws not just one. Kidnapping itself is a serious crime. There are many laws against sex trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, sex abuse, rape, sexual harassment etc. If someone is behind it, they will be breaking many serious laws, be in big trouble, and will go to jail for many long years.

Here are some good links:http://bebopper76.wordpress.co...

Isabel Casey
Isabel Casey

I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, PennyJump.com

Jova
Jova

You are funny, Tony O. We haven't established anything last week except that you and your pals are writing about apples and oranges. Number of arrests has nothing to do with estimated numbers of children in human trafficking or children suspected to be at risk of human trafficking. Your articles are not an eye-opener of any kind. They are average tabloid material. Prostitution IS a form of modern-day slavery. Even though a lot of us humans may assume that many of the individuals who enter the world of sexual exploitation do it "because they like it" - that is predominantly not true. It's the low bottom of human misery, selling your sexuality for someone else's pleasure. Selling to sad, sad unfortunate people (for some reason mostly men?) who have to pay for sexual gratification... can they have healthy relationships with other humans? are they capable of sexually attracting (or satisfying?) individuals of their own age?Who cares if the estimated numbers of trafficked children are correct or outrageously wrong. Children are being trafficked. And pedophilia is everywhere around us. And beyond being disturbing and immoral, it is also ILLEGAL. And all the media that helps it bloom should be held responsible. Village Voice operates and is directly profiting from Backpage.com prostitution adds. How about that?

Briansays
Briansays

cnnever since turner sold itpeople magazine of the airentertaininment and pop culture packaged as newsthe cult of celebrity for anchors constantly repeating themselves to fill airtime

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Mistalee
Mistalee

Now, the New Times is glad to drag the Village Voice's mess into their paper when it suits their self-interest (Lacey and Phoenix journalist Jim Larkin own Village Voice Media.)

But what they won't tell you about is how they act as the evil corporate moneyswine of the Village Voice. They've lost the writers that made the Voice the icon that it was, they cut staff 60 percent and cut benefits severely enough that they just narrowly averted a strike last Thursday.

Nope. It's been news all over the blogosphere, but since it makes Lacey (rightfully) look like a bit of a dickhead, you won't see it here.

Sad.

Jovana
Jovana

You are funny, Tony O. We haven't established anything last week except that you and your pals are writing about apples and oranges. Number of arrests has nothing to do with estimated numbers of children in human trafficking or children suspected to be at risk of human trafficking. Your articles are not an eye-opener of any kind. They are average tabloid material. Prostitution IS a form of modern-day slavery. Even though a lot of us humans may assume that many of the individuals who enter the world of sexual exploitation do it "because they like it" - that is predominantly not true. It's the low bottom of human misery, selling your sexuality for someone else's pleasure. Selling to sad, sad unfortunate people (for some reason mostly men?) who have to pay for sexual gratification... can they have healthy relationships with other humans? are they capable of sexually attracting (or satisfying?) individuals of their own age?Who cares if the estimated numbers of trafficked children are correct or outrageously wrong. Children are being trafficked. And pedophilia is everywhere around us. And beyond being disturbing and immoral, it is also ILLEGAL. And all the media that helps it bloom should be held responsible. Village Voice operates and is directly profiting from Backpage.com prostitution adds. How about that?

Janet Byers
Janet Byers

Here's a question for you detractors: of every drunk driving arrest, how many do YOU think are ACTUALLY out there driving drunk in any given place in the USA on any given weekend? Bet you your firstborn child that there are waaaaay more drunks out there driving than those who get caught.

Here's another number for you: 69. That's how many underage children between 12 and 17 were swept up in the FBI's latest sting on prostitution IN SEATTLE alone (read it on one of the VVM's papers, the Seattle Weekly article titled "Seattle Ranked Worst City in U.S. for Child Prostitution for Third Year in a Row" on 11/8/10.

Most adults agree, 69 is normally a great number. But hey, not so much if it's a child, if it was YOUR daughter or if YOU were one of those 69 kids. Do you think it REALLY matters if the numbers are skewed as much as that people are finally hearing "wakey, wakey, America, people ARE snatching kids off the street...CHILDREN are having sex with adults."

Is it okay for even ONE child to be forced to have sex with an adult? Come ON, get on the right side of this war. Or, better yet, put your money where your mouth is and start donating to studies to show the REAL number. If it's anything like drunk driving, it's gonna be hard to be "precisely exact" dontcha think? Wakey, wakey.

StevenMN
StevenMN

Don't you just love twisted statistics... Thanks to the same twisted facts we have national Amber Alert system that's convinced a generation that there's a sexual perv around every corner. Never mind that 99% of so-called child abductions involve parental custody issues.

RobE
RobE

Listen native, you have nothing more than sheer faith with which to say that. The truth is that, and the U.S. Justice Department has admitted as much on its website, that "no comprehensive study" has been done into this issue. So you are just cowboy guessing it is worse than it is because you have some weird need for it to be so. I think that says more about how your mind operates than it does about the practices of the VVM.

Trench Reynolds
Trench Reynolds

The Village Voice accusing anyone of bad journalism is like the pot calling the kettle black.

The fact that The Village Voice is supporting backpage’s trafficking ads shows not only that they have zero objectivity but zero credibility as well.

HKguy
HKguy

While I completely agree with you that the Voice and Village Voice Media are being singled out for their ads in what is a "victimless crime" between two consenting adults, I do have a problem with all of the ads touting massage parlors staffed by Asian women. These places are periodically raided, and the women are there against their will. Not children, but sex slavery nonetheless — condoned, if not aided, by the Voice's placement of their ads.

Silkroad
Silkroad

The Village Voice estimates are probably closer to the truth than Ashton Kutcher's estimates. If there are 300,000 young slaves in the country, then where the fuck are they? 300K is big enough to populate a medium-sized city. I call bullshit on that. People would notice if that many teenagers were missing.

And as for V V protecting its revenue, it has EVERY RIGHT to protect itself from the slander of bogus statistics.

Cheshyre
Cheshyre

Who's enabling child trafficking? It was never craigslist and it's not Village Voice. It is, in fact, Amber Lyon, those of her ilk, those who defend lying and scare tactics and everyone else hellbent on sweeping this under the rug. It's just like the people who want to make abortion illegal again so they can push it back into dark alleys and pretend they wiped it out.

Craigslist was in fact an excellent police tool for tracking sex crimes and crimes related to them. That tool is gone now only we're somehow supposed to believe that also wipes out criminal intent as well. This is the same mentailty that keeps the destructive drug war alive: of never addressing the underlying issues. True child defenders would trumpet backpage.com's efforts in bringing cases of exploitation to light that otherwise most likely would have remained in the dark.

This artice is incorrect in one aspect: this crusade is not done by well intentioned people. By their fruits ye shall know them. Like the Holy Crusades of medieval times, this is just a way for hypocrites to feel good about themselves by promoting witch burning hysteria, of feeding self-aggrandizement, creating a false air of morality ('cause the real thing is tough to do!) and - as always in America - it's about someone getting paid.

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Taylor
Taylor

If anyone actually believes there are only 827 child prostitutes in this country because that's how many were arrested is insane.

Jo
Jo

The reason to call folks out on junk science designed to help secure more funding for organizations is not to minimize real trafficking, but to make sure that real trafficking is what gets addressed. Misleading research will create ineffective solutions and exacerbate the problem.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Decriminalize prostitution and drugs these problems will disappear. People engage in Prostitution and drugs to make themselves happy in 99.9% of the cases. Our constitution is written to prevent religinut yahoos in our society from using government to stop people from trying to be happy. Remember one thing when operating as a citizen and we'll be okay: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of HAPPINESS!

You people who want to stop others from being happy, GO TO HELL!

say what?!!?
say what?!!?

^^^This guy must not read. Ridiculous and ignorant you are...

StevenMN
StevenMN

Janet, I'll agree that one child is too many, but when you start inventing statistics you lose credibility. I've worked for organizations involved with youth homelessness. A lot of street kids are involved in "survival prostitution". I didn't meet ANY who had been abducted, not that it hasn't happen. That didn't make their situations any less tragic. Their reasons for being on the street were all over the board.

Many were runaways, usually from abusive parents or foster situations. Some had been thrown out or abandoned by parents. Its a population that's hard to count and they'll do anything to stay under the radar because if they're picked they'll get thrown into a group home, end up back they came from.

Just saying that most so-called child abductions are perpetrated by parents in custody battles.

th4
th4

Janet, I've posted a couple of times on this thread, and I find the whole dialogue frustrating, but in an interesting way. I basically agree with your call to action. The problem is that it's not clear where the sides of this war are to be found or where we should sign up to enlist. The whole issue is awash in ambiguity and lacking in any credible proposals for action.

Kutcher's solution - PSAs aimed at potential johns - seems dubious, since there's no evidence that it works, and if it did we would never know. But I don't know how to donate to a study of child prostitution. Do you? The Voice proposes support for shelters that serve underage prostitutes and runaways, which seems valuable but insufficient, and they don't really seem that interested in following up. Are there any shelters in NYC we should support? And the Voice seems curiously indifferent about cracking down on classified ads (such as their own) that may be marketing underage prostitution.

The Kutcher estimate of child prostitutes (100k - 300k) seems to be fraudulent and intended to shock. That matters, according to the Voice, because large unsubstantiated numbers could lead to hysteria and poorly designed remedies. I buy that. On the other hand, as you point out, a small number of arrests doesn't prove that child prostitution is a small problem. Readers can pick whichever number fits their assumptions, and based on the evidence of these comment threads, they certainly do. . So put it together: celebrity + harsh tabloid attack + massive ambiguity = endless flamebait. If we want to go beyond ad hominem attacks and step out of our bunkers, we need some credible data and evidence-based policies.

Janet Byers
Janet Byers

Well, this thing won't let me edit so I'll fix my error here. 69 was nationwide, NOT in Seattle alone. Yeah, yeah, I know...this proves I'm just another lunatic trying to skew numbers.

Janet Byers
Janet Byers

The other 1% will be SO relieved by this fact. Oh, and by the way, where did you get the 99% number YOU quote? Was it a study with irrefutable facts or what? Love to have a link to the source of your claim.

RobE
RobE

You obviously can't read or chose to be blithely ignorant of the bit in the article outlining just how the Voice turns in people it suspects of trying to use its bulletin board for underage encounters.

Listen, wearing blinders because the snit it enables you to have is no way to go through life. In fact, it's kinda neurotic. How about you take those blinders off and join reality, which is already in progress?

RobE
RobE

Those women are always there against their own will? Really? How do you know that? Or are you merely falling for the Miss Cleo Fallacy, seeing your crystal ball from your house things you want to.

The Bush Administration was spending $150 million a year to interdict human trafficking in the U.S. and the number they ultimately came up with after this largely wasteful effort was that only about 1300 people were being trafficked into the U.S. every year, not the 50,000 (now it is up to 300,000---or if you believe the Polaris Project, upwards of 1.5 million in the U.S. alone) that was being bandied about back in 2001.

Unfortunately, the anti-trafficking effort has been co-opted by a combination of your usual religious hustlers and celebrities seeking to create more public relations fodder for themselves. That hurts the credibility of the entire effort and innocent people can get hurt in the bargain.

RobE
RobE

So Might Thor, since you apparently know what the true number is, how about you let us know what it is and provide a cite for that number from a credible scientific survey into the problem?

I don't think you have it. You are just another idiot falling into the Miss Cleo Fallacy trap.

Guesty
Guesty

Good thing no one thinks that.

Unlike the asshat's who make a living hyping fear in America, the V V M didn't make an estimate on the number of trafficked children in America.

It used arrest data to show Ashton's claim that 100k-300k kids are being trafficked is a bunch of hooey.

Sure, they could have just focused on how Ashton took a non-peer reviewed article claiming 100k-300k kids were at risk and then dishonestly morphed it into a claim that the number represented actively being trafficked.

Or, they could have just run the quotes from the researcher stating Ashton got it wrong.

But alas, what would people like you do then?

RobE
RobE

Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone somewhere may be happy." (H.L. Mencken)

Nope
Nope

maybe men engage in prostitution (as johns) to make themselves happy; but that is completely untrue of the actual prostitutes. They do it for monetary reasons. whether it is for drugs, designer clothing, college, or feeding their children.

I do think prostitution and many drugs should be legalized, heavily regulated, and taxed. But you are either VERY stupid or VERY naive if you think that legalization of either will makes problems disappear. Creepy men will always want underage boys or girls. Addicts will always need to resort to prostitution (and will not be able to engage in such work under legal regulations).

And don't think for a minute you aren't your own brand of "religinut"; it's just your your god is anti-religion.

RobE
RobE

The Traffickng Trendies, as I am now labeling the folks falling for the hysteria, also continue to ignore FBI stats whereby they have rescued only 866 kids from pimps IN THE LAST SIX YEARS. Yet, none of the Trendies are condemning that agency for being asleep at the switch or being incompetent when it comes to this issue even though the relatively small numbers the FBI has picked up could lead one to believe that they are lax in dealing with the problem.

Or the problem is nowhere near as large as the Trafficking Trendies want to believe (and why do they WANT to think that? Odd fantasy lives? Does the fear make them feel more alive? What is it?

Moreover, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children told the Washington Post that of all the kidnappings that occur in the U.S. every year, only about a hundred are by strangers. All the rest are by parents engaged in custody battles., Now unless you want to argue that the CMEC is part of the trafficking problem by posting such numbers then I will enjoy a good laugh at your expense.

The Bush Administration spent $150 million a year on interdicting human trafficking (which included adults). Their revised estimates after all that taxpayer money was expended to deal with the problem? The number of slaves imported into the U.S. every year is around 1300, not 50,000 (which was the figure being bandied about in 2001), or 100,000 or 300,000.

And the more the Trafficking Trendies ignore those numbers the more foolish they look.

StevenMN
StevenMN

Jane, Here's an article that illustrates bad reporting. Its from Parents Magazine that's in most doctor waiting rooms across the country. (If you're not familiar, its a cross between National Enquirer and Ladies Home Journal) If you read between the lines the numbers don't add up and just pounds away to make sensational article driving fear. You're right about the "one being too many" idea. But we all take risks walking out the door everyday. If you're always worried about being struck by lightening you'd never leave the house.

It brings to mind some articles by "Dear Abby" the advice columnist written a few decades ago regarding Halloween Trick-or-Treating. She invented an Urban Myth that there were razor blades implanted candybars by people across the country. In a few years she had effectively put an end to a long-standing children's tradition,, based on only a couple isolated incidents.

RobE
RobE

That number was provided by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children to the Washington Post. Every year in America, there are only about 100 kidnappings by strangers, the Center says. All the others are kidnapped as part of custodial battles. So a parent has about as much chance of seeing their child kidnapped by a stranger as they do of being struck by lightning twice during the same lunchtime.

You don't want to accept that the media uses fear to hype their ratings. But they do. Wake up and join reality already in progress.

Trench Reynolds
Trench Reynolds

So Robe, do you like to diddle children you find on backpage or are you a Village Voice Media lackey/astroturfer or both?

Journalists are supposed to be objective. This article is nothing more than Village Voice Media protecting their cash flow.

RobE
RobE

Actually, you're wrong.

The fact is that if prostitution were legalized with government regulated and licensed brothels and heavy decades long sentences for both johns and whores engaging in unlicensed prostitution then men would no longer be prowling the streets for action, which would leave cops more time and money to actually find and punish those operating in human trafficking, a lot of which would dry up anyway. In fact, those traffickers would stick out more than ever and be more likely to be exposed.

The illegality of prostitution only means more money for organized crime, which then will use that money to lure more women and children into getting on the game. If you take the billions in prostitution earnings away from the Mafia, the tongs, etc, through legalized prostitution the less able they will be to traffic humans for their purposes.

Mona Stangley
Mona Stangley

You could say the prostitutes do it to make themselves happy. It makes me happy to make money to be independent and able to feed my children and pay my bills

RobE
RobE

First, drunk driving is a straw man because drinking alcohol is a socially approved activity, which is going to lead to more arrests for those who are tooling around in their car above the legal blood alcohol limit. Moreover, because the socially approved activity creates such a large pool of potential drunk drivers who may not be that far from their homes after the visit to the bar, the likelihood of catching anyone violating drunk driving laws is going to be low. So essentially, you are comparing apples to wildebeests.

Secondly, you provide no alternate statistics to make your case. I have provided stats from the FBI, the Justice Department, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Washington Post. When you come up with verifiable stats rather than just the hyperbolic rhetoric of a celebrity who made his acting bones (no pun intended) by exploiting teenage sexuality himself (played a horny teenager on That 70's Show) then I might ponder seriously what you have to say. Until then, you are just aimlessly occupying bandwidth.

Janet Byers
Janet Byers

You mean like the Village Voice getting REALLY personal (bordering on libelous) to those who say they're not doing enough? Like their personal lambasting of Kutcher, Lyon and Kat Stoeffel of the NY Observer (that one was REALLY nasty.) According to VVM's attack of statistics, their own study of 827 is JUST as bad as the statistics (and people) they are roasting. Like I said in another place in this comments section, there are many, many more drunk driver's out there than the ones who actually get arrested. Doesn't mean drunk driving is okay because they can't pinpoint the exact number, does it? Wake up and smell what's REALLY being shoveled...money. VVM doth protest a little too much but then again, they DO have MILLION$$$ of reasons to do so.

RobE
RobE

Trench, engaging in libel is not how you win arguments. What I want to know, though, is why you seem to have a need to fantasize that there is a kid being raped on every street corner even though there is zero proof that is occuring?

nope
nope

Yeah. b/c the Italian mob magically went away when Prohibition ended in this country. grow up and educate yourself.

Trench Reynolds
Trench Reynolds

Uh...you're wrong. areas that have legalized prostitution still have problems with human trafficking.

http://www.calgaryherald.com/l...

And if you think that legalizing prostitution would stop the trafficking of children you're sadly mistaken.

 
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