By VALERIE BONK, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Child prostitutes would be considered victims of abuse rather than juvenile offenders and would have to be referred to child welfare officials under legislation in Congress aimed at strengthening care for them before they become ensnared in the criminal justice system.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon says if a girl is found in the custody of a pimp in much of the country, she's treated as a prostitute instead of a victim. In Wyden's words: "That's just wrong and defies common sense."
At a Senate hearing Tuesday, Connecticut Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz cited estimates that nearly 450,000 children run away from home each year and that one-third of teens living on the street stand a chance of being lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.
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