Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore state this as part of the "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign.


There's between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today," Ashton Kutcher tells CNN's Piers Morgan. "If you don't do something to stop that -- that's when there's something wrong with you.

It has been repeated in numerously, e.g. USA Today

Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children "Each year, 100,000 to 300,000 American kids, some as young as 12 years old, are exploited in the sex trade"

CBS News

The study (The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico), released Monday, reported that 300,000 to 400,000 children in the United States — 1 in 100 children

  • 4
    I note that the quotes from USA Today and Real Men Don't Buy Girls campaign are not consistent, suggesting at least one of them are wrong. One says "today" and the other says "each year". As an analogy, compare this (fictional) example "Each year, 67% of adults waited in line at the post office." to "Today, 67% of adults are waiting in line at the post office."
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 24 '12 at 7:58
  • 1
    This appears to be the report that Village Voice claim is the origin of the claim. I certainly agree that the information is presented in a confusing way. Pages 11-14, with a large cautionary note on page 10, seem to be the main source, with page 28/29 supporting (?) it. The latter explicitly only includes runaways out for longer than a week, undermining a Village Voice claim.
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 24 '12 at 8:20
  • Another confusion being made is the distinction in definitions (if any) between a youth resorting to individual cases of prostitution to get enough money to stay alive and being a "sex slave".
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 24 '12 at 8:23
  • 2
    This sounds too much like the usual moral panic not to make me skeptical. Oh, and the numbers are just unrealistically high. Apr 24 '12 at 13:38
  • I wonder why Estes uses NISMART-1 data when newer NISMART-2 data was available?
    – user1873
    Apr 24 '12 at 14:05

The Village Voice performed two months of investigative research and found weak evidence to back that claim:

Law enforcement records show that there were only 8,263 arrests across America for child prostitution during the most recent decade.

The "100,000 to 300,000" figure ... came from two University of Pennsylvania professors, Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner. ... that the figure actually represents the number of children Estes and Weiner considered "at risk" for sexual exploitation, not the number of children actually involved. Who, then, is at risk? Not surprisingly, the professors find that any "outsider" is at risk. All runaways are listed as being at risk. Yet the federal government's own research acknowledges that "most runaway/thrown-away youth were gone less than one week (77 percent)"—hardly enough time to take up prostitution

David Finkelhor, professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire ... "As far as I'm concerned, [the University of Pennsylvania study] has no scientific credibility to it," he says. "That figure was in a report that was never really subjected to any kind of peer review. It wasn't published in any scientific journal."

  • 2
    Simple math shows 300,000 is too high. That's 1 in a thousand of the total population. Since only a quarter or so of the US is a minor, that means around 1 in 250 children would be a sex slave.
    – Vincent
    Jun 4 '18 at 4:28

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