Patty* has been taken from a comfortable home in New Hampshire, moved to Atlanta, the hot spot for sex trafficking, on to Canada where she is pimped out to men who will stand in line to abuse her. Patty is ten years old. Patty is one of thousands exploited in child trafficking, as explored in the documentary “Playground.”
In 2001, filmmaker Libby Spears travelled to the Philippines where she noted the practice of trafficking humans for the purpose of sexual exploitation. She discovered the majority of victims were children. She took undercover video of the brothels, then returned to the U.S. to find the crime continues (if not more so), albeit much more discreet.
In her research, Spears noted that the number one destination for Americans seeking sex with a child, or “child sex tourism,” is the United States. U.S. citizens account for at least 25% of child sex tourists, those visiting countries for the sole purpose of abusing children, worldwide (about 80% in Latin America).
“Men will actually fly into Atlanta, get on the Internet, and say ‘I want a boy who’…” listing the attributes they seek, explains one official. Laws and rules too often protect the predators: finding a registered sex offender in a motel room with an underage girl, the police had to release the man, as there were no “visible signs” of abuse. Often the prostitutes are arrested and the offenders given probation or community service. This means a criminal record for girls as young as 13.
Officials explain why it is easy enough to circumvent the laws and rules, as shown in online webpages: Websites can include ads such as: “Dad for daughter (Be legal of course and able to prove it). Seem to click more with the younger girls. SWM (Single white male 46 (years old) …(will) not pay for sex … Put Daughter in the subject line…” The ad specifies no prostitution and no one under 18 (legal age of consent); yet the ad suggests a girl without age specified (craigslist). Backpage.com has an “escorts” section with ads such as “Insatiable aptitude for Pleasing” … the posting female claims to be 19 and her photographs are taken in a motel room. Such ads do not mention prostitution, nor will include an actual age if the poster is under 18. There are websites including boylover.org : “we provide fellowship to people of all ages who are attracted to minors.” These sites are legal due to the disclaimer: “this site does not contain nudity nor…tolerate any type of illegal activities.” The photos on the main page feature elementary school- aged boys, some posed like adult models. Photobucket includes a page called “Boy love” containing over 30 pages (24 pics a page) of unborn boys, infants, and children legally intermingled with photos of teens to adult and romance-inspired gifs. And there are sites to include peperonity.com for such users as “Young Boy Lover” who not only posts his own photo, but photos of boys in the nude (warning: explicit content) available to any one to peruse. A Yahoo search for “boy lover” (a code name for child molestation) results in over 370,000,000 where a search for “horses” results in only 22,500,000.
As “Playground” shows, child pornography and the exploitation of minors are all around us. It is an epidemic where the laws are lax and the demand is great. It is easy to access on the Internet. And it is destroying children hour by hour, for by the time you have read this article several thousand kids under 18 were raped, sexually abused, and tortured across the globe.
What can you do? Donate to a legitimate nonprofit organization fighting to stop child sexual abuse and/or trafficking, Raise awareness by showing the film, write to lawmakers to demand a change in laws. Volunteer, mentor, and voice your opposition.
More on Playground can be found HERE
Watch the trailer or purchase DVD HERE
Also available on Netflix.
“Playground.” Libby Spears: writer & director. Executive Producers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Steven Soderbergh, Abby Disney, Lauren Embrey, Gayle Embrey, and Jeff Vespa. Artwork: Yoshitomo Nara.