Invest in safe haven for teenage prostitutes
Budgets are tight, but Seattle Councilmember Tim Burgess' proposal for a shelter for teen prostitutes trying to get out of the business is a worthy investment.
THE horror stories are truly horrible: Young girls who become prostitutes endure beatings and rape at the hands of their pimps.
Later, when these teens decide they want to flee the degrading prostitution business, many have few ways to do so. They need a safe haven.
King County was preparing to contribute money to a two-year pilot project for young teens in prostitution when the budget crashed. Roughly $480,000 a year for the program was cut. Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess, a former cop and champion of the local program, was not willing to let it end there.
He is now seeking $150,000 in city money as part of 2010 budget deliberations. Good for Burgess for advocating for this program with the city budget also in the dumps. Burgess's colleagues should go along when the plan is reviewed in mid-November.
Seattle Times reporter Sara Jean Green wrote about a 19-year-old former teen prostitute who had to go to Los Angeles when she decided to stop selling her body. L.A. has one of three residential programs in the country for prostituted youth, and it helped her escape her pimp and his nasty friends.
Seattle should join the effort. The city would not have to pay for the program by itself. United Way is on board along with individual private donors, says Burgess.
The program will cost a lot more than currently pledged — a total of $1.4 million over two years.
Teen girls get into prostitution for a variety of lousy reasons. There are 300 to 500 juvenile prostitutes in the county, mostly girls, according to a recent report. The way to coax these teens out of lives of sexual abuse and degradation is to provide a safe place for them to go when they decide to make a critical change.
Burgess' spending is worthwhile. Other organizations and individuals also should step up to help. It's easy to dismiss these girls and young women — and their legitimate need for services and a way out. Too easy. They need help.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
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