Paving the road to Hell: California decriminalizes child prostitution

Often, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  This expression certainly applies to California’s S.B. 1322, which prohibits the arrest and, in most cases, the detention of minors engaged in the sex trade.  The intent of the law is to treat these children as victims rather than criminals.  However, instead of protecting children, the law will likely create more victims. 

S.B. 1322 allows for a child prostitute to be apprehended and temporarily held by law enforcement but not arrested or charged with a crime.  The child can then be placed in a safe environment by the Department of Child Protection.  The operative word here is “can.”  This is where the situation gets complicated.  Often it is not safe to send children back home, because home is where they were sexually abused or first trafficked.  Many states lack facilities that specialize in the rehabilitation of underage sex trafficking victims.  Likely, the children who are released will return to the domination of the pimp.  Moreover, the lack of a criminal charge means that the child cannot be compelled to testify against his pimp or the pedophile exploiting him.

The law, despite its good intentions, results in less protection for the child.  Pimps control their “merchandise” by coercion with threats of bodily harm to the child or to his relatives, sometimes by forced drug addiction.  The law will encourage pimps to target minors because minors will be able to return to the sex trade faster than adults after being caught.

In addition to these issues, the law offers no protection for prostitutes over age 18 who would like to escape the clutches of their pimps.  Many adult female and male prostitutes entered the sex trade as teens.  They are victims, too!

In Columbus, Ohio, Judge Paul Herbert runs a program in which those arrested for prostitution can undergo substance abuse rehab and then be transferred to a live-in facility.  Here, the victims are educated and are encouraged to assimilate to a new lifestyle with the help of a mentor.  This program is having tremendous results.  Herbert is also increasing the arrests on “johns” who solicit prostitutes and publishing their names in the local newspaper.  California has not taken this approach.

Since much of the sex trade marketing takes place over the internet, the law gives protection to a techno-savvy teen who pimps him- or herself online.  Such a teen could make $500 per week working only five hours without the risk of arrest or a criminal record.  Without any deterrent, the savvy sexualized teen might consider sex work a good alternative to flipping burgers.

In essence, California’s new law does more harm than good since it does not require a child prostitute to be placed in a rehab program for a significant period of time.  Detention would deter pimps from seeking minors and might lead to the outing of pedophiles.

While S.B. 1322 was passed to help child prostitutes, in reality, it protects manipulative adults.  The California law removes the stigma surrounding child prostitution.  After his 18th birthday, then the young adult is subject to adult penalties for illegal behavior.

We can do a better job of protecting our children.  In Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children’s Hearts and Minds, Steve Feazel and I expose the liberal agenda to brainwash and indoctrinate our children for political gain.  Whether via movies, television programs, video games, or public and private school curricula, we see an aggressive attempt by the liberal left to reshape the moral compasses and worldviews of our children. 

If we are to save our youth, we must equip ourselves with knowledge about these trends in America.  Whether it is fighting the dispensation of sex change hormones to pre-adolescent children, the teaching of inappropriate sex education to K-12 students, or the intimidation of Christian students, we must be willing to stand up and fight the corrupting forces that present themselves as agents of good.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the ill conceived S.B. 1322, a law passed with good intentions, a paver stone in the road to Hell.

Illustration: Jodie Foster portraying a teen prostitute in Taxi Driver

Carol M. Swain is professor of political science and professor of law at Vanderbilt University, and Steve Feazel is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker.  They are co-authors of Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children’s Hearts and Minds.  E-mail: or, Facebook: steve.feazel.5 or Profcarolswain, Twitter: carolmswain.