Dear WestCoast Community,
Read any major metropolitan newspaper and you will find references to “child prostitutes.” Victims of commercial sexual exploitation are often arrested, while purchasers of sex with minors are not typically prosecuted. But children who are bought and sold for sex are victims, not criminals.
WestCoast’s executive director, Stacey Katz, recently commented in an article that using the benign term “john” contributes to the culture of impunity that protects perpetrators from serious consequences. Instead, reporters focus on detailed descriptions of the girls’ clothing and bodies, or the violence they experience.
The Chronicle for Social Change’s Victor Valle investigated the use of terminology in the style guides of major newspapers like the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle. He presents his findings in an article, A Style Guide to Covering Sexual Exploitation.