A disturbing number of teens have been caught up in the sex trade in Atlantic City. Many of these juveniles have been ensnared by pimps who exploit and control them leaving them without a realistic chance to escape and return to a normal life. A local new report indicates that when a teen runs away, or for other reasons finds herself on the street, she is almost always approached a pimp within 48 hours.

Despite the apparent prevalence of these sex crimes, only one pimp has been arrested in Atlantic City since the beginning of the year. More often it is the women and teens that are actually on the street who are arrested. By focusing on law enforcement resources on these women and the men who pay to be with them, the police seem to be only attacking the symptoms of the problem and not those who are orchestrating and profiting from the crime.

In the internet age police say that much of the prostitution does not even occur in the open. There is much less of women walking the streets or working the casinos. Instead the pimps use websites such as Craigslist rather than Pacific Avenue.

Many of the underage girls that are being exploited come from northern New Jersey, but some come from other states or countries as well. The Anti-Trafficking Task Force for Atlantic County compares the sex trade to the drug trade with the exceptions that while you can only sell drugs once, a young woman can be exploited over and over.

Source: Press of Atlantic City “Underage sex trade in Atlantic City preys on girls as young as 12” Lynda Cohen, May 19, 2011