There are as many as 300,000 children in the USA who are working as prostitutes.

Isn’t that appalling? If you’re like me, when you think of children being used as sex slaves, you think of Cambodia, or India, or some other remote location that you’ll probably never visit and where you probably couldn’t do anything substantial anyhow. But we’re talking girls who live blocks away from us. My neighbor’s daughter. Someone on your child’s soccer team. That homeless teenager he gave a dollar to on his walk to work. People we can touch, speak to, who are inches from our everyday.

What are you doing about it? I’m doing nothing.

It’s amazing how easily I’m able to turn off the part of my brain that recognizes the pure intolerability of this sort of activity. How easily I can go humming about my day, passing people in crisis without a second thought. I can pretend a problem doesn’t exist with such practiced skill that I truly forget that I ever knew about it. I consider myself to be a relatively compassionate human, and I can walk whistling right on by.

Isn’t there something terribly wrong with me, with us?

The good news is, some folks out there are doing something. I’m applauding them today, with the hope that I’ll be unselfish enough to join them. Favorite and I attended the Exile Poster Project last night – an art exhibition to raise money to fight the complete ridiculousness that is children in peril, lost little girls, who are suffering here in pretty, liberal, eco-aware, progressive Portland, Oregon. Hundreds of lost girls. Potentially thousands.

You can see the exhibit at  You can purchase prints of the posters there, which were designed by local artists and are beautiful, moving, and catalytic.

I’m vowing today to remember to be horrified… to rage against the numbness that my selfishness advocates, to keep my eyes open, to practice empathy, compassion, resurrection, grace.  The first step toward making a change is acknowledging the problem.  In order to truly acknowledge, we need to start re-learning how to feel.


  • Noel April 28, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Well said. 🙂 Our economy has made it easy for us to be far removed from seeing the truly unethical consequences of our inexpensive goods and services: the slaves who make our clothes, the human rights abuses in the food industry, and even the illusion that most sexually enslaved prostitutes have a choice. I just heard an interview with a man convicted of soliciting prostitutes on NPR yesterday and he said the thought that he could be hurting the woman in doing this never crossed his mind. They provide a service, he pays them. If they don’t want to do it they wouldn’t, right? Research any of the above topics and you’ll often find abuse and enslavement on the other end of the chain. But please don’t tell me any more about it because I, like most, prefer to remain ignorant.