Child Abuse by Another Name: Why the Child Welfare System Is the Best Mechanism in Place to Address the Problem of Juvenile Prostitution

Lucilia was thirteen years old the first time she was sold for sex. After being physically and sexually abused at home and chancing that life on the streets could not be worse than life at home, Lucilia ran away. Ultimately, however, the streets dished up more of the same abuse and Lucilia was soon gang-raped at a party. Little did she know, but the man who intervened during her rape and promised to protect her from the rapists, her knight in shining armor, would quickly turn her back out onto the streets and sell her for sex. The United States is patently aware of the devastating tragedy of sexual slavery. Federal laws have been enacted to provide protection to sexually exploited youth when they are brought into the United States from abroad. Unfortunately for Lucilia, she was not from Russia or Thailand; Lucilia was from New York. As a result, when she was discovered prostituting by law enforcement, she was charged as a criminal and served time in both adult and juvenile jails. Had she been a foreign national, Lucilia would have been rushed off to safe victim housing, been provided with medical and mental health treatment, and would have been immune to criminal prosecution. However, as a domestic national, Lucilia wascharged with a criminal violation, booked, and locked in a cell.

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