Report Finds 2,000 of State’s Children Are Sexually Exploited, Many in New York City

I came across this article and although I’m not ignorant of the fact that prostitution exists I was astounded when I read this.  Even after watching Dateline’s “To catch a predator” and knowing that there are men out there seeking to have sex with young girls as if that isn’t sick enough but to read this and how they are out there preying on young victims for sexual exploitation.  How important it is to get the “Safe Harbor Act” passed.   

By CASSI FELDMAN
Published: April 24, 2007 

At first it seemed like an innocent flirtation. Shaneiqua was 12 years old and walking around Brownsville, Brooklyn, when a man pulled up alongside her in a car and called to her from his window.

“He was just, like, ‘You’re cute. I really see myself being with you.’ Stuff like that,” she said.

Shaneiqua had just run away from home and had nowhere to go, so she got into his car. It was a decision that changed her life.

Eventually, she would learn that the man, known as Handsome, was a pimp. In exchange for room and board, she said, he asked her to dance at a strip club and give him her earnings. When that wasn’t enough money, she said, he told her to start taking men into the “VIP room,” trading sex for cash.

Shaneiqua reluctantly agreed. In her mind, she said, it was just part of being in a relationship. “The only thing that really mattered to me was whether he was still going to love me after I slept with other men,” she said. “As long as he said yes, I didn’t really have any problem with it.”

A report released Friday by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services estimates that New York City is home to more than 2,000 sexually exploited children under 18.

The report was based on interviews, focus groups and surveys sent to 159 law enforcement and social service agencies statewide. Westat, a research firm, asked each agency to report its contacts with children identified as “commercially sexually exploited” during a two-month period last year. Then it weighted the data to get an annual estimate. The study excluded victims of child abuse that did not involve a commercial purpose.

The findings suggest that a vast majority of the state’s sexually exploited children are in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx: an estimated 2,253 in the city versus 399 spread over seven upstate counties.

The report found other differences as well. In New York City, sexually exploited youth tended to be female and black, having sex with strangers in hotel rooms or outside. Upstate, the youth were younger, more likely to be white, and were often exploited at home by adult friends or acquaintances.

At least 85 percent of these youths statewide have had some contact with the child welfare system, mostly through abuse or neglect proceedings. In New York City, 75 percent had been in foster care at some point.

The report was mandated by the State Legislature last year as a way to determine how many children are being sexually exploited and whether they are getting the services they need.

The results could bolster a bill before the Legislature. Sponsored by Assemblyman William Scarborough, a Queens Democrat, the Safe Harbor Act would change the way young people arrested for prostitution are treated under the law. Rather than being charged as juvenile delinquents in Family Court and subject to detention, they would be considered victims of sexual exploitation and provided with counseling, emergency shelter and other services.

“By changing the law, we can begin to change the perception of these children and the perception of their situation,” Mr. Scarborough said. The legislation has widespread support in the Assembly and Senate, where it was sponsored by Dale M. Volker, a Republican from western New York. A companion bill introduced by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democrat from the Bronx, would stiffen penalties against pimps and others involved in human trafficking.

At a news conference Friday, supporters of the measures hailed the study as an important step toward quantifying the problem, but they also expressed concerns about how it was conducted.

“It’s not a full picture,” said Mishi Faruqee, director of the Juvenile Justice Project at the Correctional Association of New York and a member of an advisory group that contributed ideas for the study. She said that several agencies failed to turn in their surveys and that the report missed the young people who had yet to be arrested or to seek help. “Many sexually exploited youth aren’t coming into contact with any of these agencies, and those youth weren’t counted,” she said.

Mr. Scarborough credits advocates like Ms. Faruqee and Rachel Lloyd, executive director of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, or GEMS, with bringing the issue to his attention. Lloyd, a former prostitute herself, started the group in 1999 to help young women who have experienced sexual exploitation and violence.

Shaneiqua, now 19, was one of her clients. When Shaneiqua left her pimp, she went to Family Court and was ordered to attend a treatment program at GEMS, where she now works as a program associate.

GEMS serves about 200 girls a year and provides transitional beds to nine at a time. If the Safe Harbor Act passes, Ms. Lloyd said, she will be able to reach far more.

“We’re no longer talking about teen prostitutes, bad girls,” Ms. Lloyd said last month in Albany at a meeting with legislators. “We’re talking about kids who are being bought and sold by adults.”

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Media – Cho – Iraq – Gastroparesis

Again I’m striking out at the media and for now this will be my last post on this but something I just have to get off my chest.

You may wonder what Cho, Iraq and Gastroparesis have to do with each other so let’s find out.

1.  Do you know who Cho is?  How much times does the news media allow for Cho?
2. Do you know the names of those serving in Iraq?  Again, How much time does the media allow for reports of the men serving and the names.
3. Do you know what the health condition called “Gastroparesis” is?  Have you heard the media talk about it?

We all know the answer to number 1 due to the recent Virginia Tech killings as we have been saturated with every bit of information about Cho that the media can possibly “dig” up and I do mean dig.  I think whatever information they find should be indeed turned over to the authorities but I don’t think that information is something that needs to be divulged to the public.  Am I sitting here wanting to know Cho’s background and what his motives could have been or if he had a mental condition and where he bought his guns, and where on campus he lived.  Absolutely not!!  My concern is for the victims and their families and if the media had an ounce of deceny and respect for the familes they would realize that too.  But we know it is who can get the information, any information, to the public first so they can say “you heard it hear first” or “you saw it here first”. 

The answer to number 2 is pretty obvious.  The media spends about 1 to 2 1/2 minutes on “The war in Iraq” update and that is it.  So unless it is someone of prominence that has been injured or killed we hear of no names. 

Then we come to number 3.  I can tell you that without any doubt, you have never heard the word Gastroparesis mentioned by the media yet this is a health condition that strikes 5 millions Americans, 1 out of every 5 and no one has heard of it unless they are diagnosed with it.  Then they try and find some kind of support and with no place to turn so they turn to the internet for online support.  This condition, if you haven’t already read my page about it, paralyzes one’s stomach and they are unable to digest their food and can lead to living by getting their nutritional needs via tube feedings for the rest of their life. 

What I’m getting at, I think you can tell by now, is the media over reports the wrong news and under reports the important news.  One day of information about Seung-Hui Cho was enough.  Anything after that was not of interest to me at least, and I’m sure to many others.  Get on with “the news“, spend more time of the news segments about our troops, after all they are over in Iraq fighting against people who have no regard for life.  They are getting paid far less that what they deserve for putting their life on the line while our “boys on the hill” sit on their ass and get paid the big bucks, taking all the time they want to vote on a bill and then take their vacation without having voted and we are paying them. 

I guess I’ve rambled on and maybe not making sense or putting my thoughts together as well as I wanted to but when it comes to the media I will never get over the way the prioritize their news.  I know its the fact that I’m not facing the truth that they are reporting what they think the majority of the public want to hear and see.  If that’s the case, then do we have our priorities in order?

Ok, I’m through venting and my chest feels a lot better.  I’ll get off my ‘rantbox” but not without promising to not get on it again.

Whew!!

The Media – do they aid and abet criminals?

With what happened at Virginia Tech leaves our nation not only in shock but with a wakeup call that we aren’t as safe as we think we are whether we are a student, a mall shopper, a spectator at an event or a passenger on an airplane or bus. 

And we ask why?  Who is to blame?  I feel that can be answered in two words: The Media.  Listening to the news tonight on NBC they reported that since the horrible crime at Virginia Tech there have been 28 scare tactics that followed.  One being they were going to do better and exceed the total that was accomplished at Va Tech.  And get this, in the same breath without missing a beat he, Brian Williams, said it was all due to seeking publicity.  Gee, I wonder where they got that idea.

HELLO MEDIA, have a look in the mirror and you will have an answer.  If you weren’t so damn anxious to be the first to get news on the air regardless of what it is, regardless of how graphic the details you report and how much of the news is spent highlighting the person who did the crime that possibly it might cut down on these wannabee publicity seekers. 

Being a parent myself I can think of nothing worse than seeing the media go into so much detail about the criminal as to why, how, what type of weapon  they used, where they purchased it let alone showing videos that the criminal took for all to see.  Then start badgering the college officials as if there was something they could have done or signs they saw from his behavior that could have prevented him from doing what he did. 

Does all that matter?  Is it going to change the fact that there were 33 lives lost? Is that going to help the grieving families and friends left behind to know all about the one who did this hanieous crime?  I think the answer is obvious. 

This is information that the public can and should be spared.  Not in this case but in some where a bomb was involved, they have shown how it was made, the materials used to make it and the website where one can get the information on how to build one.  They are just handing over information to some who might not even have thought about doing anything until the idea was planted. 

Until the media learns to separate what should and should not be reported we will continue to have Virginia Techs and Columbines. 

 

VaTech video tributes on the sidebar

4/20/07 – I’ve updated this post by adding some tributes on the sidebar and if you have time you might want to check them out. I’ve never seen so many tributes when I came across these.

I hope they touch you as much as they did me.

Thanks you for stopping by !!

VTech – The Victims, their pictures

What occurred on 4/16/2007 was the worst tragedy one could have ever imagine happen, happened. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those whose life’s were lost as well as to the whole Virginia Tech student body.

The Victims:
An interactive site where you can click on any photo of all the victims to learn about the individuals who were killed in the shootings at Virginia Tech. You can also share your memories if you know someone or just leave a comment if you choose.

Very compelling!!

Source:The New York Times
Monica Evanchik, Lisa Iaboni and Tom Jackson / The New York Times