Village Voice response to child prostitution campaign heartless? SC legislature overrides Haley’s veto of DV/rape crisis centers; a new way to fight youth crime in Chicago

FairGirls.org has released a TV ad that targets child prostitution. It goes after Backpage.com, a Craig’s List look-alike that has  adult ads. The ad features a 13-year-old girl, who says:

“He raped me a bunch of times and eventually he sold me to four or five men a day for $100 an hour. My pimp advertised me online at Backpage.com. That’s how these guys would buy me. I’m 13.”

The girl is an actress, but her words are based on a true story, reports ABC15 in Phoenix. FAIR Girls executive director Andrea Powell told ABC15 that Backpage.com is “one of the biggest online marketplaces where underage girls are being advertised.”

“I can tell you, with the girls we have here, 80 percent of them have been advertised through Backpage,” said Lea Benson,

president of StreetLightUSA , a local organization that helps victims of sex trafficking. She said ads like this one help bring awareness to the problem but more needs to be done to find a solution.

 Backpage.com is owned by Village Voice. The news station contacted the organization to get their response. In the TV news video, Liz McDougall, Village Voice media attorney, was quoted:

“The issues of child sex trafficking and of the abuse of the Internet in crimes, including human trafficking, are too complex and too important to address in simple statements or soundbites.”

The station’s online report had more from McDougall:

“While the aim of Fair Girls to rescue and stop the sex trafficking of young women is laudable, the devotion of significant resources to an ad campaign dedicated to a non-solution is unfortunate.”

Seems to me that removing adult ads is one of many important solutions. Craig’s List did so two years ago.

According to its web site, the FAIR in FAIR Girls stands for “Free, Aware, Inspired, Restored”.

THE SOUTH CAROLINA LEGISLATURE RESTORED about half a million dollars to the state’s network of domestic violence and rape crisis centers, according to several news stories (St. Andrews Patch, New York Times, Huffington Post, GreenvilleOnline.com).  Apparently, there was quite a flap after Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed the funding, as well as her reference to the rape crisis center as “special interests” on her Facebook page.
A NEW WAY TO FIGHT YOUTH CRIME in Chicago involves a nontraditional after-school program that helps teens develop self-control and build skills to have positive interaction with their peers, according to this thorough and interesting story by James Warren on The Daily Beast. One of the learning exercises developed by the program, called Becoming a Man – Sports Edition, is described:

One of many tactics was the “fist exercise,” where two boys were paired and one given a rubber ball to squeeze in a hand, while the other boy was given five minutes to get the ball out of that hand.

Generally, said [Jens] Ludwig [director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab], the two boys “would beat the crap out of each other” and few were successful in extracting the ball. They would punch and bite but generally to no avail.

And, generally, nobody thought of simply asking for the ball. Why? It was partly because individuals were fearful of being seen as weak. But coaches used the fist exercise to force youth to reflect on their assumptions about the intentions of others. Why should they have assumed that asking for the ball in a cordial manner might not have been successful?

The boys who participated in the program had missed an average of 40 days of school the year before and their average grades were D+, according to the story. One-third had been arrested. In the group of boys who participated in the program, the Chicago Crime Lab researchers found that violent crime arrests were reduced by 44 percent, vandalism and other crimes by 36 percent.

More information about the program can be found at the University of Chicago Crime Lab, which funded the expansion of Becoming a Man – Sports Edition, which had been operating at one high school, into 18 schools and did an extensive research on the project.

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