Arguably one of the most vile and reprehensible crimes against humanity is the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The child sex trade is one of the most complex and least understood problems in the U.S. It is also considered by some the most neglected form of child abuse. The children that suffer have been called the world's most vulnerable people, because many are homeless, alone, young, and desperate for basic human physical and emotional necessities. Both boys and girls are easy prey for those who wish to exploit and abuse them for their own personal gain and satisfaction.
In the U.S. an estimated 244,000-325,000 children are currently being emotionally, physically and spiritually devastated through the sex trade. This occurs despite the many laws specifically designed to protect children from such abuse. The laws are not being enforced and society systematically blames the children for their own abuse. This is largely due to widespread ignorance and stigmatization about the complex and horrific nature of the sex trade.
Children cannot protect themselves from the insidious and overpowering dangers of those that wish to use and abuse them. The responsibility therefore falls upon the larger society to protect and ensure the safety of these, our most vulnerable citizens. We are therefore likewise responsible for their continued suffering when our efforts are insufficient or have failed.
The purpose of the PROMISE Initiative is to eliminate the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the United States. PROMISE promotes and supports a comprehensive and collaborative approach to ending the exploitation and is designed to be implemented at the local or state levels. Roughly 300,000 children are preyed upon by savage and brutal adults across the nation through child prostitution, stripping, child pornography, etc.
PROMISE advocates for federal legislation, unifying the existing efforts and bringing them to the table with the major governmental and nongovernmental organizations (GOs and NGOs) that are involved with the issue. The National Leadership Team composed of representatives from the relevant GOs and NGOs motivates and supports local/state efforts to replicate the Initiative. Support provided by the National Leadership Team includes:
* strategy development
* expert speakers
* letter or phone contacts from key federal officials
At the local level, a comprehensive and collaborative approach is being promoted that focuses simultaneously on Prevention, Intervention, Rehabilitation and Public Awareness/Education. Each of these areas of focus are addressed by a Task Force and the entire effort is coordinated by a Local Leadership Team. Strategies include consideration of all 3 populations involved: children, exploiters (pimps, traffickers, etc.) and abusers (johns, child porn customers, etc.) The Task Forces consist of representatives from the most pertinent GOs and NGOs, and include survivors or their advocates.
An Action Plan encompassing this approach has been created as a suggestion for a response to the problem on the local and state levels. For a copy of the continually evolving plan, or for more information please contact Frank Massolini at 312.291.7916 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about the PROMISE Initiative presently underway in Chicago, go to www.sapromise.org