Together, we can stop gender-based violence against young women and girls in the U.S.
Join us in our featured campaign and tell the media there's no such thing as a Child Prostitute.
LETTER TO: Associated Press - CNN - New York Times
As major national media outlets, we are asking that you no longer use the term to “child prostitute” to describe children who are bought and sold for sex.
According to research by the Human Rights Project for Girls and The Raben Group, there have been more than 5,000 instances in the past five years when reporters for print, wire, and online outlets have used the phrase “child prostitute,” “child prostitution,” “underage prostitution” or other variations on the phrase.
We understand it is the media’s job to convey a situation or an issue with precision and clarity. “Child prostitute” may seem clear because it conveys the fact that money is exchanged for sex, but it is also potentially misleading because it can suggest consent when none exists, either in the legal sense or in the reality these girls face.
The term “child prostitute” should be replaced by language that clearly represents the factual circumstances of these children.
The following terms provide accurate and precise language about children bought and sold for sex:
• “sex-trafficked child”
• “child sex trafficking victim”
• “commercial sexual abuse” of children
• child who is a victim of “commercial sex abuse”
• “commercially sexually abused” child
All of these terms evoke the elements of coercion and victimization that characterize the condition of children bought and sold for sex. The language here represents an important departure from “prostitute,” a term that can easily convey choice, agency, and criminality to the reader. The language suggested to replace “child prostitute” also correctly comports with federal law recognition of children as victims of trafficking and exploitation, as well as sexual violence.