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The Church on a Justice Mission

Editor's Note: Soon after Amy Sherman's article appeared ["The Church on a Justice Mission," July/August], Amy and I received an email from Don Lattin in Alameda, California. "The line has great shock value," he wrote, "but I seriously doubt the veracity of the lead paragraph of your July/August cover story when it states that 'the average age of prostitutes in Phoenix is 13.' Do the math—or at least provide some documentation for that incredible claim." Lattin, a veteran journalist, was correct. The sentence should have read, "the average age of entry into prostitution in Phoenix is 13." I thanked Lattin for drawing our attention to the error, which was corrected in the web version of the article. He responded: "I'm glad to be of service and appreciate your willingness to correct the piece. I must say, however,that I still find it hard to believe that AVERAGE age for a woman entering prostitution in Phoenix is thirteen. Again, think about the math. That means there would have to be large numbers of pre-pubescent children entering the prostitution business. I'm sure many prostitutes were sexually abused as children, and tragically, some children are exploited as prostitutes, but an Average age of thirteen still sounds like something worth double-checking." He added a genial postscript: "This is what happens when newspaper reporters take buyouts and have too much time on their hands." Indeed, the statistic concerning age of entry turns out to be much in dispute. It is widely cited by activists who are working against sex trafficking and forced prostitution, not only in the Phoenix area but in the United States more generally, and it is often sourced to the U.S. Department of Justice. Critics charge that the sources adduced fail to support the claim. If we bracket that dispute, we should be able to agree that the realities on the ground are sufficiently appalling, and that there is plenty of work to be done.

I am grateful for Amy Sherman's ...

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