IS SHUTTING DOWN BACKPAGE.COM THE ANSWER TO CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING?
Backpage.com is making approximately $2 million each month off their adult services online ads. Children’s right advocates claim that this easy-to-use source has become the root of the child sex trafficking industry. Despite Backpage’s claims by attorney, Liz McDougall, that they have 80-100 staff scouring the ads every single day, solicitations for child sexual encounters still slip by. McDougall claims that 400 such ads are caught each month and sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Presumably, these ads are not allowed to run. Nevertheless, in the past two months, Phoenix Vice department has recovered at least half a dozen teen girls who were posted on the site, thanks in part to citizen awareness and reporting, and made several arrests of pimps. According to statements made by Sergeant Jim Gallagher, 90% of the officer time in his unit is spent watching ads on sites like Backpage to find the children who are being exploited.
Nearly all of the US Attorneys General have called for the shutting down of Backpage as a means of stopping one part of the rampant buying and selling of children as sex objects. Numerous anti-trafficking groups around the country and thousands of citizens are standing with this goal, and the issue is discussed across the media networks.
The answer for many seems simple. Do away with the major sources for the sex transactions, and you will stop the massive hemorrhaging in the sexual safety of our children.
Is the matter that easy to fix? In 2010, Craig’s List complied with similar pressure and closed all of the adult services ads. The result was a massive move to Backpage.com. In addition, there are now over 1400 smaller sites around the country that together comprise a much bigger market for the forced prostitution of children.
As long as some people in this country believe that they have the right to indulge in their sexual desires with children, we will continue to be a nation whose minors are at grave risk for being abused. We could shut down Backpage and all the other sources, and the perpetrators would find other ways to engage in their devastating rapes of innocent children.
It is time for a massive cultural shift in the attitudes toward women and children.