We know that prostitution happens . . . in Portland or other places, of course. Okay, let's be honest, we know it is much closer to home. But are we ready to face that it is happening in Aloha, Beaverton, Cedar Hills, Cornelius, Hillsboro or (insert your neighborhood) . . . — If you are already wrinkling your nose, then this won't make you feel better. In our county, and maybe in your neighborhood, children are involved in prostitution, not as criminals but as victims of brutal child sexual abuse.
Various sources agree that the average age that a child is targeted and recruited by pimps is between 12-13 years of age. Pimps target girls who are vulnerable in some way. Easy targets might include girls with low self esteem or those who have run away from difficult home situations. Rather than child prostitutes, they are better understood as "Minor Victims of Sex Trafficking." They are living in a silent, abusive world with no hope in sight. Consider also that the pimps are not always the adult men you imagine; sometimes they can be older kids.
Washington County law enforcement agencies, mental health and social service providers are working together to get a better handle on how this problem is impacting victims who have homes or families in Washington County. It is our responsibility as a community to raise awareness of their abuse, find ways to intervene, and help them on the path to rescue and recovery. We must also commit as a community to tracking down their abusers and holding them accountable for their crimes.
Who are these "human traffickers"?
They are sadistic and violent master manipulators. They use calculated grooming and recruitment tactics to lure young girls, build relationships with them, and gain control over their lives. They create an elaborate web of lies and false promises to gain a victim's trust. They convince our children to sell their bodies to adult men who are eager to exploit them . . .
"We really need the money"
"You owe me for everything I've done for you"
"It will only be this one time"
"If you love me, you will do it for me"
Learning About Child Sexual Exploitation in Washington County
In October 2010 your Sheriff's Office organized a community forum to begin a conversation about the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. While there are no easy solutions, we are pleased that over 150 concerned citizens attended!
The forum featured the Dan Rather documentary Pornland, along with a panel of experts who shared their expertise from the perspectives of law enforcement, social service providers, and medical professionals.
Washington County has a record of coming together on big issues. We invite you to help us support these young victims of human trafficking, and to find ways to hold the criminals accountable for their abuse. Please take a moment to learn more. Here are some great places to start: