The city of D.C. and child advocates are declaring September Human Trafficking Awareness Month, with a campaign to alert the public to the trafficking of children right here in DC.
Head downtown on any given night, and you could be blocks, or steps, from this kind of exchange:
BUYER: Well, how young do you have?
PIMP: Well, I don't have nothing younger than 14.
BUYER: Fourteen's good.
That's a pimp, selling underage girls for sex. The buyer is actually an undercover agent from Shared Hope International, an international non-profit that taped the exchange. The organization is plastering Metro with warnings about child sex-trafficking.
Founder Linda Smith says 22 DC-area pimps were investigated and/or arrested for prostituting minors between January and July.
"What should have been summer break was a summer of being broken. We cannot allow our city to be the playground for pimps and traffickers," says Smith.
Tina Frundt was forced into prostitution when she was 14. Last year she founded Courtney's House, a shelter for sex-trafficked girls that is assisting the awareness campaign.
"This isn't something you get over in a year or two years. You have to get used to getting raped over and over again and everyone is saying it's all your fault," says Frundt. "It isn't your fault. Someone forced you."
Look around the Metro this month and you'll see bright yellow signs that offer a hotline number for victims. Some signs offer advice--A REAL BOYFRIEND WON'T ASK YOU TO HAVE SEX--others offer warnings--HAVE SEX WITH AN UNDERAGE PROSTITUTE AND YOU WON'T GET OFF.
Rebecca Sheir reports...