Public Opinion is Clear: Urgent Legislation Required to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation! Read the story

U.S. children treated as criminals not victims

Posted on Apr 3, 2013

The United States has made progress in addressing the problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Successful efforts in this area have included: adoption of strong legislation like the PROTECT our Children Act of 2008; the formulation and implementation in 2010 of The National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction; new initiatives promoting Internet safety and national public awareness campaigns; cooperation between public and private sectors; and the creation of national databases. Despite these efforts, there remains a huge gap in the implementation of existing laws, policies and practices. Major factors contributing to this gap include: a lack of resources to assist victims; insufficient awareness of the extent of harm caused by commercial sexual exploitation of children; and widespread public attitudes that often view sexually exploited children as juvenile delinquents undeserving of protection. While the United States has a well developed child welfare system that includes risk assessments,family preservation, foster care and adoption services and youth development, these services are often only available to children with caregivers. Children living on the street, runaways and those who have been forced into prostitution are often treated as criminals instead of victims in need of assistance. To understand more about the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the United States, you can read the full report here