Report: Las Vegas a Hub for Child Sex Trafficking

Tuesday , March 25, 2008

LAS VEGAS — 

More than 400 children were found working as prostitutes in Las Vegas during a single month last year, according to a national report that calls the city a hub for child sex trafficking.

"You've got a lot of really good people trying to solve this problem in Las Vegas, but it's a big problem," said Linda Smith, president and founder of Shared Hope International.

The nonprofit, based in Vancouver, Wash., released the 165-page report Monday. It said "high-risk conditions of Las Vegas" including easy access to alcohol and drugs, 24-hour gambling, and a "hyper-sexualized entertainment industry" fueled a problem it dubs "domestic minor sex trafficking."

The study, produced with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, also finds the region possesses inadequate services to help those it calls victims of the sex trade.

Researchers compiled data in 2007 from 16 Las Vegas-area agencies including the FBI, police, Clark County Family Court, county juvenile authorities, the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth and the Salvation Army.

"Outreach workers in one organization identified over 400 prostituted children on the streets of Las Vegas in May 2007 alone," the report said. It said a group called Stop Turning Out Child Prostitutes found some 1,496 minors faced prostitution-related charges in the area since 1994.

Las Vegas was one of 10 U.S. locations for which the agency completed reports. Others included Salt Lake City, Dallas, Bexar County and Fort Worth, Texas, the New Orleans area, Clearwater, Fla., Erie County, N.Y., Independence, Mo., and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Las Vegas police Lt. Karen Hughes said police last year arrested 157 juveniles on prostitution-related charges, and 153 the year before.

"That doesn't mean there aren't more girls out there," she said. "It's tragic."

Federal officials have recognized Las Vegas as an area where human trafficking is a concern, and a cooperative effort was launched in 2006 called the Anti-Trafficking League Against Slavery. Anchored by Las Vegas police, ATLAS involves the FBI, Salvation Army, women's and family shelters and rape crisis programs, Nevada Child Seekers and the Boyd Law School at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

But officials express frustration that after a program to provide counseling and treatment for teen prostitutes closed recently, there was no local safe house specifically for sexually trafficked children, Smith said.

Officials said they agreed with report findings that trafficked children are treated as criminals instead of victims.

"These kids don't really belong in juvenile justice but don't fit anywhere else in the system," said Family Court Judge William Voy. "They're out there being victimized but also committing a delinquent act, prostitution. There is no alternative but the detention center."

Voy, who spends one day a week hearing cases involving juveniles accused of prostitution has been working with others to open a safe house for juveniles, but plans are still in the early stages.

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For me, we could avoid this

For me, we could avoid this child prostitution if we are to teach family values to our children, providing them of their necessities and giving them the love and care that they need. As they grow older, they will know and understand what's right from wrong and the causes and effects of doing such. And as parent's, we are obliged to work so we could give our children a better future and not to ruin their life.

family values

I couldn't agree more with you, yet I wonder how it can be achieved. Poverty is still one of the most contributing factors to abuse and neglect as well as to unwanted pregnancies. Yet nothing is being done to find a solution for poverty. The latest political effort to re-address the issue resulted in TANF (temporary assistance for needy families), which focused on work. Work as the solution to everything, but work at the same time makes parents less available for children. So it may be easier these days to teach children "day care values" than to teach them family values.

The odds seem stacked against far too many

"Poverty" is a funny thing because down-under, it's been discovered that foster carers are taking in abused children to get hundreds of dollars worth of tax-free allowances, much of which is spent at the pub or the pokies.  In other words, foster-care payments given to feed children put-in-care are actually feeding slot machines. 

That's one way to use government assistance and turn a life around!  

"teach family values"

Have you seen Las Vegas? Have you seen the sort of people who visit Vegas? There's an advertising slogan that says, "What happens here, stays here". Family values go right out the door when mommy or daddy need to make some extra money at the craps table as little Johnny and Janie wait out on the lobby until 3, 4 in the morning.

Even better... let mom and the younguns make some extra cash at the brothels while dad takes his chances in the casinos. I'm told the family that works together stays together.

Close down places like Vegas, and then let's talk about teaching the value of love and morals within the safe bosom of family!

first hand knowledge...

My 18 year old daughter was in foster care for 3 years; before she left she found the pay-stub for their foster-care direct deposit:  $1,016.00 for ONE MONTH for ONE CHILD!  Yes, she has mild Cerebral Palsy on the left side, but she totally has taken care of herself all the time.  This foster mother went to the dog races and the casinos twice a week!  My daughter funded that ?hobby? plus did NOT receive basic things like KOTEX!  She got THIN generic panty liners and relied on the school nurse for the rest!  She waited 5 months and then I PICKED UP HER NEW GLASS LENSES!  She has NOT had a new night-time brace for her leg in two years!  And this FOSTER ?MOTHER? went gambling TWICE a week?????  This is fact.  Even people in that town know this woman is a gambler!  She's not trying to hide ANYTHING! 
Foster care payments are nothing more than a way to pay the house payment or a new car payment!  Granted, there are probably good foster parents; only I HAVE NOT MET ANY LATELY!!!
And yes, I was a foster parent for over 4 years... my husband made good money and we used the money to send the kids to a Christian school because the public school kids taunted these poor children every day.  We took them on vacations and bought them nice clothes.  We DID buy a large van; a 6 year old van that would hold everybody and ONE child's money paid the payment:  $187.00, back in 1984.  We did not get food stamps so the money did go to feed them.  We were not perfect, but we did NOT have them for the money...  And we only got $187 for one and then $126.00 for the second little girl.  We got a one time $200.00 to buy both girls clothes and after that (almost 3 years) we bought their clothes.   I'm just SHOCKED at the amount of money people get for each foster child, now.  They even get a clothing allowance twice a year, now. 
My daughter drew SSI while in foster care and the foster parents pocketed it all and went on two week vacations while my daughter went to respite; and they STILL got the full amount of money each month.  Then, last year, she went to respite one weekend (Friday night till Monday morning) a month and they STILL got the full amount.  She was not taken to ANY appointments (which they would have gotten gas money) and my daughter was taken by the social worker!  HOW do they get by with this?  My daughter was dressed in near-rags and old clothing of the foster mother's.  I told my daughter to put those clothes in a sack and take the to the Good Will; and if someone picked them then it was THEIR choice! 
My daughter gained over 50 pounds in foster care!  Since being home we are members of TOPS and she has lost 6 pounds and eats balanced meals.  She has nice clothes bought on clearance, and her NEEDS are met.  She is loved and wanted and cherished! 
All this to say that foster care leaves a lot to be desired!
Teddy is fuming....

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

For the love of ________

The language of adoption mentions "The Triad" as being the birth parent, the adoptive parent and the child.  When it comes to fostering/adopting (as an institution) I, personally, see another love-triangle (or trinity), that revolves around the love of God, the children, or money.

 before she left she found the pay-stub for their foster-care direct deposit:  $1,016.00 for ONE MONTH for ONE CHILD!

In New Jersey, starting monthly salary subsidy for people who chose to foster begins at $713/month per child.

While a foster child is in your home, you will receive a monthly board payment starting at $713 (according to the child's age and level of care), a clothing allowance and health care coverage for the child.  In addition, you may be eligible for one or more of the following supportive services:

  • Child care services while attending foster parent training or working
  • Reimbursement for special transportation needs
  • Infant care, car seats and/or bicycle helmets
  • Flex funds to meet a child’s special needs (tutoring, camps, special activities, etc.)
  • Special home rehabilitation funds through the Department of Community Affairs    [ http://www.state.nj.us/njfosteradopt/services/support/ ]

According to the same web-page, adoption (from foster-care) offers it's own perks as well:

Adoption subsidy benefits are available to help their adoptive parent by providing:

  • A regular monthly payment including clothing allowance to help parents meet everyday need.
  • A one-time payment that covers the legal fees related to adoption.
  • Medicaid coverage for the child to assist with any physical or psychological condition that is not covered by the family's own insurance.
  • Children with handicaps may be able to receive special services for a specific medical, health or equipment need, which may be approved on a case-by-case basis.
  • Out-of-state medical coverage (for most states).
  • A Federal Tax Credit the year the adoption takes place ($12,150 for 2009) .

Preschool child care services may be available for subsidy eligible children whose adoptions were finalized after January 1, 2005. Child care services are funded by the Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development (while funds are available), for adoptive parents who work or attend school full-time.

When I first read this, I joked with my job-searching friend, (who is getting divorced, has 2 kids, and in need of another income), "You know, the State is always hiring people to foster."  I told her the amount she could make, and we laughed at the sickness because she knows damn well people can easily take the child, feed the child scraps and left-overs, clothe the child in hand-me-downs, and keep the child in the basement, yet still collect over $700 a month AND get credit for being a great humanitarian because you chose to foster a needy child.  Sick, sick world, isn't it?

So here's my twisted spin on adoption and all the being grateful-and-thankful business that goes with the service --  even though My a.parents did some really crappy things, at least when they adopted me, they didn't also take a subsidy check from the government (NJ or Canada) as their monthly "thank you" for removing a single child from state-care.  [No, instead, all they took was an unwanted bastard-child and her identity -- which costs money, of course.]

Pound Pup Legacy