The death of 5-year old Shaniya Davis has most recently called to attention the heinous acts surrounding the issue of child prostitution and sex trafficking in public media. Her mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, accused of selling her daughter into prostitution, faces numerous charges, including human trafficking, child abuse, felony and prostitution.
While this may be one of the rarer instances that the public has heard of abuse and sexual exploitation of a child this young, many of us working to prevent and end prostitution and trafficking know how prevalent and widespread these acts of violence have and continue to affect young women and children.
Such is the case with Dalencia, a former prostituted child from Texas whom Dick Gordon, of American Public Radio, (http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_907_Delencia.mp3/view) covered in his interview on the subject of teen prostitution. There are an estimated 300,000 children lured and coerced into prostitution each year, with a large number of them having experienced violent, abusive backgrounds. When understanding the enormity of such perpetration, we must then consider the implications of those girls and children being forced into a life of isolation, trauma, and shame. How then do we intervene? At what age and in what form?
Public assistance and resources, alongside political will and community support, are in essence, necessary forms of intervention that will produce change in the way that permanently combats this cycle of exploitation. The focus, as CAASE and supporters see it, then, relies heavily on the prosecution and conviction of those consuming and selling sex, which ultimately hurts and destroys the lives of these young, innocent children.