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There is no such thing as ‘a child prostitute’

As a member of the Western Slope Against Trafficking Task Force (WSAT) and the Lead Advocate for the Western Slope Center for Children child advocacy center, I read your November 8, 2023, article, Child prostitution sting snags local doctor, with interest.

My intention in reaching out to you is to address terminology used in your article, specifically the term, “child prostitute.” Children who are sexually exploited are victims, using the terms “prostitute” or “prostitution” implies complicity.

We know that a child cannot legally consent to sex with an adult.

According to The Polaris Project, “…children participating in commercial sexual activity is ALWAYS considered trafficking under federal law. There is no such thing, under federal law, as a child prostitute.” Additionally, according to a June 1, 2016 press release by The Associated Press, changes to the 2016 Stylebook state; “New entries discourage(ing) the use of child prostitute,” (

Words matter, and the public is most likely unaware that the term “child prostitute,” has been updated to reflect what it truly is, child exploitation. Omitting the phrase in future articles may result in the subtle education of your readers.

If you would like to learn more about human trafficking, you can visit the websites listed below:

Should you or your colleagues be interested in a Human Trafficking 101 training, please visit WSAT’s website, or email WSAT at to request such.

I appreciate your reporting and look forward to follow-up articles as the story moves forward.


Melissa Jefferson

Dear Journalist: Resources for you:

More education and definition on the different ways children are exploited and what terms to use for appropriate framework of victim instead of criminal:

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