How Journalism Abuses Children

by Andrew Vachss
Originally published at The Zero, August 1996

Also available in Russian (

As far as journalism is concerned, child sexual abuse didn't exist thirty years ago. Once its existence was acknowledged, journalism made up for lost time—indeed, journalism has been the single greatest force for justice and progressive social change. But a sordid undercurrent to modern journalistic language has undermined those gains, resulting in nothing less than the decriminalization of child sexual abuse. Certain pernicious myths—not, it should be noted, "clichés," which often contain at least a core of truth—have so permeated journalism that they have become, in the minds of many Americans, "facts." Here are some glaring examples:

But perhaps the greatest journalistic offender of all subsumes and exalts all the foul myths about children and sex: the term "child prostitution."

"Prostitution" is the exchange of sex for money. Often called a "victimless crime"—in itself, a moronic statement—the public perceives the word "prostitute" as pejorative. Indeed, we call a person who "sells out" their moral convictions in exchange for personal gain a "prostitute." The essence of "prostitution" implies consent. So when pedophiles talk about "child prostitution," they (deliberately) further the lie that little children are "seductive" that they "volunteer" to have sex with adults in exchange for cash (which, of course, they never see); that they "lose their virginity," and they "have affairs." Pedophiles know if they can succeed in placing "prostitution" on a continuum of sexual activity involving children, they will have established a beachhead from which to launch their other assaults. Once the public accepts that children can "consent" to sex for money, it will be easy to accept that they can consent to sex for "love."

If we allow the term "child prostitution" to gain a sufficient foothold in our language, we surrender precious, hard–won ground to the enemy. There is no such thing as "child prostitution." That term contradicts itself, "proving" a lie. Trafficking in prostituted children as done in Thailand and the other "kiddie sex tourism" countries is slavery—any other description is a grotesque euphemism or an outright lie.

Soon there will be a national boycott against all goods made or manufactured in Thailand. Its goal will be to stop the reprehensible "kiddie sex tours," and punish those countries which continue to provide a safe harbor for predatory pedophiles. And a good way to start is to banish the term "child prostitution" from our language.

If journalism has a God, it is Truth. If child sexual abuse is the ultimate evil, to continue to perpetuate child–destructive myths so beloved of predatory pedophiles is the ultimate sacrilege.

It's time for the truth.

© 2000 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved.