So Young: Underage Prostitution, by the Numbers

Oakland is one of the nation's top trouble spots for the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. Third in a series; watch for more stories this week.

Just across the Estuary, the Oakland Police Department is trying to stem a rising tide of underage underage prostitution. This is the third in our series on the problem; watch for more stories this week. You can read the first article here and the second one here.

Bay City News — Statistics about the commercial sexual exploitation of youth remain elusive, thanks to the underground nature of the crime and a lack of official data collection protocols. Experts agree, however, that Atlanta and Oakland are two of the biggest trouble spots in the country.

Neither the California Department of Justice nor the FBI collects data on human trafficking arrests, so it's up to local agencies and non-governmental organizations to determine and document the scope of domestic trafficking of minors.

This means there's no consistent system used to organize the information.

The FBI's National Incident Based Reporting System is being modified to collect trafficking arrest data in the future, but the state DOJ dropped its anti-trafficking efforts in 2008 when budget issues forced the closure of its Crime and Violence Prevention Center.

On average, 200 kids are referred each year to Alameda County's Sexually Exploited Minor Network, according to Barbara Loza-Muriera, the network's facilitator. Another 120 exploited youth are case-managed from previous years.

"The referrals come from schools, teen clinics, probation, law enforcement, district attorneys, public defenders, social services, schools," Loza-Muriera said.

About 60 percent of referrals in Alameda County come from law enforcement, according to one survey. The Oakland Police Department targets young-looking girls working on the street or being sold over the Internet, and sometimes girls arrested on theft or truancy charges also turn out to be working as prostitutes. 

Other referrals come from health clinics and community organizations, and a few girls have even referred themselves, which used to be unheard of, Loza-Muriera said. The numbers only represent confirmed cases, though, and countless more are suspected each year.

State and local arrest data also provide some insight into relative rates of commercial sexual exploitation of children. 

In 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, 76 underage girls were arrested on suspicion of prostitution in Oakland out of a total of 549 prostitution arrests, according to the FBI.

That means Oakland alone accounted for about 8.5 percent of the country's 893 juvenile prostitution arrests in 2009 (excluding New York, which doesn't report them to the FBI). California was responsible for 426 of those arrests.

Los Angeles, which has a population of about 3.8 million compared to Oakland's 390,000, logged 69 of the arrests. Oakland appears to have many more exploited youth per capita, but is hard to make many concrete conclusions about the scope of the problem from those numbers since cities vary in their enforcement efforts.

Oakland also receives grant money in ebbs and flows to combat trafficking, so arrest statistics depend in part on department resources, said Sgt. Holly Joshi, a spokeswoman for the Oakland Police Department who spent three years with the department's vice and child exploitation unit.

In 2005, Oakland was awarded a U.S. Department of Justice grant that allowed it to focus on human trafficking starting in 2006, according to Lt. Kevin Wiley, who started the department's vice and child exploitation unit.

As a result, he said, underage prostitution arrests jumped from six in 2006 to 41 in 2007. In 2008, juveniles comprised almost 20 percent of the Oakland Police Department's prostitution arrests, or 50 out of 255.

"Nearly 100 percent of our cases are initiated as a result of proactive vice operations," Wiley said. "If we stop doing proactive enforcement and rescues, the numbers will decrease, but the problem will remain and only get worse."

This is the third in a series on underage prostitution in Oakland that is appearing on Alameda Patch this week. Read the first article here and the second one here. Next: how the Oakland Police department and other Alameda County agencies are working to combat the problem.

Copyright © 2011 by Bay City News, Inc. Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Geral Sosbee August 16, 2011 at 02:06 PM
The fbi pretends that prostitution, drug dealing, and other crimes are not always in the fbi's jurisdiction. This is because the fbi is busy in silencing critics and covering up the fbi's own crimes. The fbi is the most incompetent, corrupt and evil group of assassins (aside from the cia thugs) ever to live on the earth, A few links for ones reading pleasure: http://www.phillyimc.org/en/fbi-covers-atrocities-guantanamo-bay-prison http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/non-consensual.html http://www.phillyimc.org/en/bans-and-threats-posting-my-reports http://phillyimc.org/en/global-human-rights-violations-usa http://phillyimc.org/en/cops-impliedly-authorized-new-law-kill-innocent-suspects#comment-62634 http://sosbeevfbi.ning.com/profiles/blogs/shill-reveals-prupose-as-fbi-perpetrator-amp-peeping-tom?xg_source=activity http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/oliverwendallhol.html
joel August 16, 2011 at 04:20 PM
On that point one person raise above all the peoples He represente our district Mr Swanson , the only one that pushed a bill adressing that issue , now the day there will be a bill sentencing to life without parole for the pimps you will see a different approach as most massage parlor are nothing but international prostitution rings . Which rotate the "Girls" like animals from State to States , on that part Oakland PD has done an outstanding job , San Francisco hum......... It is an extremely lucrative business , far more lucrative than any , a business where the IRS does not look very often . Thanks for the patch for doing this artilcle , it could cover days of publications .
Cecelia Leong August 16, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Sex trafficking is an international issue. It is an incredibly lucrative criminal enterprise trapping an estimated 2 million children world-wide in the sex trade. Check out some of the facts: http://www.ijm.org/sites/default/files/resources/Factsheet-Sex-Trafficking.pdf
Philip J Cenedella August 17, 2011 at 04:19 PM
The FBI's Innocence Lost project is one of the bright spots in the fight against human trafficking... http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/cac/innocencelost The Bay area has some of the most wonderful advocates in the country as well,...including MISSSEY, SAGE, and others. This fight is real - the FBI and other first-responders are doing a good job and we as citizens now need to pick up the vigilance, increase our reporting of this crime, and put the scum in jail for a long long time. peace, phil cenedella 888-206-3264 www.stopslavery2011.com National Association of Human Trafficking Victim Advocates
Geral Sosbee August 17, 2011 at 04:45 PM
The fbi work with the cia in the covert exploitation of children for many purposes, usually intel related: http://barbarahartwellvscia.blogspot.com/2011/05/child-trafficking-sex-scandal-exposes.html The fbi/cia also program the public through media campaigns to believe that the children are of any particular concern. After all a sociopathic torturer or murderer in the fbi doesn't stop his psychopathy and turn a new leaf when prostitution is the focus; the same homicidal mentality dominates fbi operations 24/7. Intelligent citizens are now recognizing the filth and corruption that characterize all fbi and cia operations globally and the great toll on civilization in terms of men tortured and murdered for political purposes. http://sosbeevfbi.ning.com/profiles/blogs/consent-to-be-governed-by-usa-not?xg_source=activity


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