State lawmakers will be tempted to ratchet up penalties for the crime of child prostitution and declare the problem solved. But Georgia already has very tough laws in this area. Like the rest of the states, it needs to significantly expand treatment programs for sexually exploited children. And even more important, it needs to broaden community-based prevention programs that spot and help troubled children before they end up selling their bodies on the streets.
A report earlier this year by the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic at Emory University estimated that hundreds of children were being used as prostitutes throughout Georgia. They come from troubled families and often have histories of truancy. They typically run away from home after being sexually abused.
Once on the street, they face increased risks of being battered or killed. They are also likely to experience drug addiction or psychiatric disorders and contract — and spread — diseases. They may eventually recreate their personal disasters in the lives of their children...
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