Women's Funding Network sex-trafficking study is junk science

Schapiro Group data wasn't questioned by mainstream media

"The study showed that any given 'young' looking girl who is selling sex has a 38 percent likelihood of being under age 18," reads a crucial passage in the explanation of methodology. "Put another way, for every 100 'young' looking girls selling sex, 38 are under 18 years of age. We would compute this by assigning a value of .38 to each of the 100 'young' girls we encounter, then summing the values together to achieve a reliable count."

This is dense gibberish posing as statistical analysis.

When the team went on to conduct its full statewide study, it simply treated this 38 percent success rate as a constant. Six new observers were then turned loose to count "young-looking" sex ads on online classifieds sites like Craigslist and Backpage.

David Finkelhor, the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, says reporters need to resist the urge to cite bogus studies.
David Finkelhor, the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, says reporters need to resist the urge to cite bogus studies.

Details


For background articles go to: www.villagevoice.com/sex-trafficking

EDITOR'S NOTE: Village Voice Media, which owns this newspaper, owns the classified site Backpage.com. In addition to used cars, jobs, and couches, readers can also find adult ads on Backpage; for this reason, Women's Funding Network and their allies have often called attention to the site, sometimes going so far as to call for its closure.

Certainly we have a stake in this discussion. And we do not object to those who suggest an apparent conflict of interest. We sat quietly and did not respond as the WFN held symposiums across America—from Seattle to Miami—denouncing Backpage. Indeed, we were never asked for response.

But then we looked at the "science" and the media's willingness to regurgitate, without question, these incredible statistics. In the interest of a more informed discussion, we decided to write.

Super Bowling for Dollars: The great American game is another chance to foist false research on a gullible media
Wall of Shame: CNN, USA Today, and other media organizations got fooled

UPDATE: Beth Schapiro responds: "We stand fully behind our work"

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That total count was then multiplied by .38 to come up with a guesstimate of how many children were being trafficked.

"This is a logical fallacy," says Steve Doig, the Knight Chair in Journalism at Arizona State University, who reviewed the study at our request. "Consider this analogy: Imagine that 100 people were shown pictures of various automobiles and asked to identify the make, and that 38 percent of the time people misidentified Fords as Chevrolets. Using the Schapiro logic, this would mean that 38 percent of Fords on the street actually are Chevys."

But the Georgia sponsors were happy with the results—after all, the scary-sounding study agreed with what they were saying all along. So the Women's Funding Network paid Schapiro to dramatically expand the study to include Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Texas. (Georgia's Kayrita Anderson sits on the board of the Women's Funding Network)

The Women's Funding Network says it would ultimately like to have the study running in all 50 states.

The count of online classifieds featuring "young women" is repeated every three months to track how the numbers change over time. That's the source of the claim of a 64 percent increase in child prostitution in Minnesota in a matter of months.

But that's not how a scientific study is supposed to work, says Finkelhor.

"They don't tell you what the confidence intervals are, so these changes could just be noise," he says. "When the Minnesota count goes from 102 to 112, that's probably just random fluctuations."

There's a more fundamental issue, of course.

"The trend analysis is simply a function of the number of images on these sites," Finkelhor says. "It's not necessarily an indication that there's an increase in the number of juveniles involved."

Despite these flaws, the Women's Funding Network, which held rallies across the nation, has been flogging the results relentlessly through national press releases and local member organizations. In press releases, the group goes so far as to compare its conjured-up data to actual hard numbers for other social ills.

"Monthly domestic sex trafficking in Minnesota is more pervasive than the state's annually reported incidents of teen girls who died by suicide, homicide, and car accidents (29 instances combined); infants who died from SIDS (6 instances); or women of all ages murdered in one year (37 instances)," reads the study.

Of course, those other figures are rigorously compiled medical and law-enforcement records of actual documented incidents, so it's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.

The police who tally many of those actual statistics—as well as records of real face-to-face encounters with juvenile prostitutes—don't seem to be very impressed by the statistics put forward by the Women's Funding Network.

"The methodology that they used doesn't really show the numbers that back it up," says Sgt. John Bandemer, who heads the Vick Human Trafficking Task Force in St. Paul. "We take it with a grain of salt."

   

THE EXPERTS WE consulted all agreed the Schapiro Group's published methodology raises more questions than it answers. So we went to the Schapiro Group to ask them.

Beth Schapiro founded the Schapiro Group in 1984, starting out mostly with political consulting. The bulk of the group's work, Schapiro says, consists of public opinion research. In 2007, the group installed its own phone-banking center, and the group's website advertises services ranging from customer satisfaction surveys to "voter persuasion calls."

Counting hard-to-find exploitation victims wasn't exactly in the company's repertoire when it was asked by A Future Not a Past to devise a study on juvenile prostitution in 2007, but Schapiro jumped at the opportunity.

The Georgia studies included efforts to count juvenile prostitutes on the street, at hotels, and in escort services, but they also marked the debut of the problematic online classifieds study that would later be reproduced in other states.

In a phone call this month, Schapiro insisted that her study was the first effort ever to try to scientifically determine the number of juvenile prostitutes—a claim that would likely surprise the authors of dozens of previous studies, several of which are footnoted in her own report.

When we asked Schapiro and Rusty Parker, the leader of the classifieds study, to fill in some of the missing pieces in their methodology, they had a hard time coming up with straight answers. In fact, Parker couldn't remember key information about how he constructed the study. When asked where he got the sample pictures used to calibrate the all-important 38 percent error rate, he wasn't sure.

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34 comments
Clejon
Clejon

This is junk science? Then the global warming fiasco is the same. Junk Science. They used highly questionable models and manipulated data to get what they wanted. Has Westward written about that as well/ Oh, you are being selective to support your position. So the warming is all due to people but people seeking sex with under-aged minors is really not a problem. I guess you can support this because most of these perverts go to Thailand to get their kids with which to have sex. I think sexual perversion in our society is a much greater problem then the sol call warming, which actually as been cooling.

Cheriwoods1
Cheriwoods1

One is considered a "victim" or "slave" when cooperating with police. If not, they are considered a "co-conspirator."-Cheri WoodsAuthor, Death Row Madam

nadinethomas
nadinethomas

Sex trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced byforce, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under theage of 18 years.Sex traffickers frequently subject their victims to debt-bondage, an illegal practice in which the traffickers tell their victims that they owe money (often relating to the victims’ living expenses and transport into the country) and that they must pledge their personal services to repay the debt.

Nadine ThomasInternet dating tips

London escorts
London escorts

Lack of study is one of the main reason of underage girls who joined Sugar daddy or else. As studies shows that most of teen girls entering into puberty as age 7-8 year.Escorts in London

Leegrant4law
Leegrant4law

As a Civil Rights/Civil Libeties lawyer in Californa, my research has shown that thoee European and Scandinavian countries whch have decriminalized or even Legalized Prostitution have the very lowest incidents of rape and other sexual crimes. Enightened people elsewhere have realized that Prostitution is a victimless crime and the only times that there are victims is when Sex Workers and their patrons are arrested and prosecuted. Lee Grant, Attorney at Law, Encino, California.

Cheriwoods1
Cheriwoods1

Lets get the government out of our bedrooms!!! What right does the state have to tell a woman what she can do with her own body, or to tell a man what he can do with his paycheck?Get rid of these archaic laws and DECRIMINALIZE prostitution! Prostitution is the oldest profession! Keep sex laws in place to protect minors, but allow adult men and women to make their own choices on this moral issue. Given options, the change in law will stop the demand and supply, thus the need, for human trafficking.

-Cheri WoodsAuthor, Death Row MadamWebsite: myspace.com/cheriwoods

Tell the Truth
Tell the Truth

There is a lot of controversy over the numbers of adult woman who are forced sex slaves. The real factual answer is that no one knows. There is hard evidence that the sex slavery/sex trafficking issue continues to report false information and is greatly exaggerated by politicians, the media, and aid groups, feminist and religious organizations that receive funds from the government, The estimate of adult women who become new sex slaves ranges anywhere from 40 million a year to 5,000 per year all of which appear to be much too high. They have no evidence to back up these numbers, and no one questions them about it. Their sources have no sources, and are made up numbers. In fact if some of these numbers are to believed which have either not changed or have been increased each year for the past twenty years, all woman on earth would currently be sex slaves. Yet, very few real forced against their will sex slaves have been found.

It is not easy for criminals to engage in this activity:

Sex trafficking is illegal and the penalties are very severe. It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity. They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. They would need to prevent the general public from reporting them into the police.

This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare. These criminals would be breaking dozens of major laws not just one. Kidnapping itself is a serious crime. There are many laws against sex trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, sex abuse, rape, sexual harassment etc. If someone is behind it, they will be breaking many serious laws, be in big trouble, and will go to jail for many long years. While there are some women who may be true victims. And it is possible for this to happen in rare situations. This is a small rare group of people and that the numbers and scale of this crime is exaggerated. The very nature of someone pulling off a kidnapping and forced sex for profit appears to be very difficult. Since it would be difficult this makes this crime rare. Not impossible, but extremely rare. And do you really think that millions of people are lining up to make a career out of being a illegal violent sex slave kidnapping pimp?

A key point is that on the sidelines the adult prostitutes themselves are not being listened to. They oppose laws against prostitution. But no one wants to listen to the prostitutes themselves. Only to the self appointed experts that make up numbers and stories many of which have never met a real forced sex slave or if they did it was only a few. The media and government never ask the prostitutes themselves what would help them in terms of laws.

Adult Women are NOT children.Media coverage of trafficking and adult women's migration and sex work is confused and inaccurate. The media wrongly uses the terms 'sex work' and 'trafficking' and adult sex work and child sex trafficking synonymously, as if they were the same. perpetuating stereotypes and stigmatization, and contributing to the violation of women's right to free movement and livelihood options. They assume that if any woman moves from place to place for sex work that they are being trafficking. The media, politicians, aid groups, feminist, and religious organizations does not take into account that she may do this of her own free will. Too often women are treated like children. Prostitution is a business between adults and in our society adults are responsible for themselves. Sex slavery/trafficking on the other hand is non-consensual. To equate that the two are the same is to say grown adult women are not capable of being responsible or thinking for themselves.

Adult women are not children.

Most migrant women, including those in the sex industry, have made a clear decision, says a new study, to leave home and take their chances abroad. They are not "passive victims" in need of "saving" or sending back by western campaigners.

Sex Trafficking/Slavery is used by many groups as a attempt to outlaw all prostitution around the world by saying that all women are victims even if they do it willing. This hurts any real victims because it labels all sex workers as victims.

This is done by the media, aid groups, NGO’s, feminists, politicians, and religious organizations that receive funds from the government. There are very strong groups who promote that all adult women who have sex are victims even if they are willing, enjoy it and go out of there way to get it. These groups try to get the public to believe that no adult women in their right mind would ever go into the sex business unless she was forced to do so, weather she knew it or not. They say that 100% of all sex workers are trafficking victims.

They do this in order to label all men as sex offenders and wipe out all consensual prostitution. Which is what their real goal is. There is almost no one who challenges or questions them about their false beliefs. Therefore, the only voices you hear are of these extreme groups. These groups want to label all men as terrible sex offenders for seeing a willing adult sex worker. No one stands up to say this is foolish, the passive public says nothing.

These groups even say that all men who marry foreign women are terrible sex predators who take advantage of these "helpless foreign women wives".

These groups believe that two adults having consensual sex in private should be outlawed. Since they believe that it is impossible for a man to have sex with a woman without abusing the woman in the process.

Non government Organizations (NGO's) are chiefly responsible for manufacturing “a growing problem” of trafficking in order to generate revenue for their Federally funded cottage industry. They also fabricated numbers by expanding the definition of trafficking to include practically anyone.

For example various women's groups testified under oath at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (July 13, 2007) that US based matchmaking organizations were correlated to human trafficking ring.womenspolicy.org/thesource/art...

This hysterical claim was an emotional ploy to get legislators to enact the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. The truth reveals THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A US BASED MATCHMAKING AGENCY ARRESTED FOR TRAFFICKING. These NGO's spread their propaganda partnering with Lifetime television(Television for women) conducting a poll among viewers (mostly women) to asociate "mail order brides services" with trafficking of women to generate support for the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. wqad.com/global/story.asp?s=39...

This romance law requires American men submit criminal hard copy records to be reviewed before they can communicate with a foreign lady using a matchmaking organization.wqad.com/global/story.asp?s=39...

Why should the US government dole out millions of dollars to NGO’s such as Polaris Project whose executives are paid handsome salaries when the money could be spent on REAL PROBLEMS?

This is an example of feminists and other groups exploiting the suffering of a small minority of vulnerable and abused women in order to further their own collective interests. For example, getting money from the government and Charity into their organizations. Rather than wanting to find the truth.

Here is some more information about this:

http://sextraffickingtruths.bl...

http://bebopper76.wordpress.co...

Washington post article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

News night BBC video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Guardian newspaper:http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2...

Dallas TV News show about super bowl sex slave myth:

http://www.wfaa.com/sports/foo...

Dallas Newspaper article:

http://www.dallasobserver.com/...

http://www.dallasobserver.com/...

http://www.dallasobserver.com/...

noContrasts
noContrasts

Washington DC needs to clean up it's act. Our nation's capitol is very bad, what a shame. Those crooked politicians better clean up. Why is it we are brought up not to lie, punished if we do, no matter how minor, but corporations, companies, government agencies, lie, lie, lie, then get promoted, bonuses, when they need to be in jail.

noContrasts
noContrasts

Washington DC needs to clean up it's act, too. Our nation's capitol is another very bad area. The crooked politicians do need to clean up, shame on them. How is it when we are brought up, told not to lie, punished if we do, then major Corp, Companies, lie, lie, lie.

AG
AG

"How do you know when the pictures were taken?" Finkelhor asks. "It's not illegal for an 18-year-old who's selling sex to put up a picture of herself from when she was 16."

Excuse me, isn't that still prostitution? That's illegal. period.

Mashda48
Mashda48

BAN CRAIGSLIST! CANCEL IT .VOID IT.....DO SOMETHING DON'T BE PARTICIPE OF THIS DISGUSTING CRAIGSLIST THAT COVER UNDER???? LONGER THIS EXIST...IS GOING TO GROWING LARGER!! AND MORE KIDS WILL BE SUFFERING ,TRAUMATIZE AND EXPLODE! DESTROYING LIFES, YOUTH! BAN THAT CORRUPT CRAIGSLIST!

Ryan R
Ryan R

Most Women's Studies science is junk science. The feminists like to say that 1 in 4 women will be raped which is such a huge lie that people believe it.

Grabir01
Grabir01

With this Obama economy, teens have to do something for work !!

fagley   dork
fagley dork

the kiddie porn industry is booming. always has, always will. when is everybody gonna realize that bodies aren't dirty minds are.

legalize kiddie porn and stop jailing men who like young girls. thats human nature.you know it, i know it.

Cheriwoods1
Cheriwoods1

I grew up in Minnesota where I started a LEGITIMATE escort service and was named "Businesswoman of the year." This was followed by my moving to Los Angeles where due to a series of circumstances, I became a successful Hollywood Madam-turned-author.I think we all know the downside of prostitution and object to sex-trafficing of minors or non-consenting adults, so we don't need to be misled and misinformed by anti-prostitution organizations and law enforcement about a business they object to despite the fact they have no personal experience or knowledge of. Craigslist is a venue that provides all citizens the opportunity to exercise their human rights, if they choose to do so.It's time these archaic laws are changed that take away an adults right to have sex for money in the privacy of their own home without threat of arrest and imprisonment.

-Cheri WoodsAuthor "Death Row Madam"Website: myspace.com/cheriwoods

Football Fan and Taxpayer
Football Fan and Taxpayer

According to the media hype There was supposed to be hundreds of thousands of under age child sex slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with super bowl fans. At the Dallas Super Bowl 2011. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM????????????

Well, as I predicted it was all a big lie told by various anti-prostitution groups and the Dallas Women’s Foundation which is a anti-prostitution group that lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries. As proved in the link below:

Top FBI agent in Dallas (Robert Casey Jr.) sees no evidence of expected spike in child sex trafficking:

“Among those preparations was an initiative to prevent an expected rise in sex trafficking and child prostitution surrounding the Super Bowl. But Robert Casey Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, said he saw no evidence that the increase would happen, nor that it did.“In my opinion, the Super Bowl does not create a spike in those crimes,” he said. “The discussion gets very vague and general. People mixed up child prostitution with the term human trafficking, which are different things, and then there is just plain old prostitution.”http://www.dallasnews.com/spor...

This myth of thousands or millions of underage sex slaves tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in.

Brian McCarthy isn't happy. He's a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he's forced to hear why his customers are adulterers and child molesters. Brian McCarthy says the sport/super bowl sex slave story is a urban legend, with no truth at all.

I do not like the idea of people getting the wrong information and believing lies, no matter what the topic is. The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing to me how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.

While this may happen in very rare limited situations, the media will say that millions of people are sex slaves without doing any real research on the topic. Only taking the word of special interest anti-prostitution groups which need to generate money in the form of huge government grants from taxpayers, and charities. These "non profit" group's employees make huge salaries, therefore they need to lobby the government, and inflate and invent victims in order to get more money into their organizations. If you look into how many real kidnapped forced against their will sex slaves there are, and not just take the anti-prostitution groups word for it. You will be very surprised. Where are all the forced sex slaves? I would like to meet the millions of slaves and see for myself if they were kidnapped and forced against their will.

These groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies.

This is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.

I would like to see a news organization do a full investigative report on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being told about sex trafficking slaves. The articles about the super bowl sex slaves, has been proved wrong many times, but news organizations still report about it, as if it were fact.

Sex Trafficking in Sports Events links:

http://sextraffickingtruths.bl...

http://bebopper76.wordpress.co...

http://www.dallasobserver.com/...

http://www.dallasobserver.com/...

Dallas TV News show about super bowl sex slave myth:

http://www.wfaa.com/sports/foo...

Esseff2003
Esseff2003

And this to the list of other big lies like Global Warming, the Stimulus Act and Obama-care. What do you expect from today's media. They are all a bunch of worthless hacks who can hardly be bothered with accuracy let alone the truth.

it'salllies
it'salllies

Substitute global warming and climate change where it says child prostitution and the same thing is true. It's all about the money!

Wingboss
Wingboss

At least the message and emphasis got acrossed to our politicians and media.

Disgust
Disgust

I see the same picture that was shown 10 years ago. The skin lotion works wonder.

Betty Page
Betty Page

No one in the know counts Schapiro research as legitimate unless they want to prove an AGENDA!

Joeyo
Joeyo

All I can say is this, when I was in high school there were a lot of underage girls that actually wanted it. I know that may surprise everyone.

Thetruthisthetruth
Thetruthisthetruth

What a relief to read a reporter state that the emperor has no clothes, i.e. that the corrupt anti-trafficking lobby is, well, corrupt. The Women's Funding Network is just one of many such groups that have sprung up like mushrooms in the last decade by absorbing the hundreds of millions of dollars the US government and the various states have allocated from tax dollars to combat a crime that does not exist.

This is not to say there is no trafficking abroad, but venerable media such as the Washington Post which did an expose in September 2007 entitled " Human Trafficking Evokes Outrage, Little Evidence" found that there is virtually no sex trafficking to the US. The anti-trafficking NGOs conflate international trafficking with domestic trafficking, use phony statistics (as the author of this article showed) and constantly expand the definition of trafficking to include all sorts of other crimes that suddenly become trafficking so they can boost the numbers and...boost the need for funding. It has been a cash cow for some years now for these NGOs, but due to the recession the milk is running dry and they have to ramp up the hyperbole.

Groups like the Polaris Project, headquartered right here in Denver, are leaders in this. They have even gone after American men who meet their foreign wives online, calling the women victims of sex trafficking and stating publicly that foreign women who marry American men are likely to be held as sex slaves or sold to brothels. Really, they say this, even though this has never happened (and if it did don't you think it would be front page news in every paper across the land?). In Maryland last year Polaris lobbied hard for a bill requiring any Maryland man to have his fingerprints on file with the police before he can send an email to a woman in another country.

Haven't the taxpayers paid for enough of these wasteful fantasies?

Snarky bizach
Snarky bizach

i'd like to study that Steve Doig's dick. It looks huge.

Druid0621
Druid0621

A wise man once said: "as long as your politically correct, being factually incorrect doesn't matter." This is the case with this particular study, and yet our lemming-like State Legislature is swallowing this bilge hook, line and sinker with their push against prostitution. There's a reason why it's the world's second-oldest profession. Hey- at least someone's working......

Billie Jackson
Billie Jackson

We need rational thinkers!!! We need rational legislation! We have one more week before Colorado gets checked off of hunts alternatives list. Once they get enough states to sign on, then they will move forward to federalize anti-prostitution laws like they have desired all along. This will also give them the statistics they have longed for, because they will be able to count every prostitution arrest as a 'trafficked' person! No matter how old or what the real circumstances are.

This IS the agenda people:

http://www.huntalternatives.or...

http://www.huntalternatives.or...

http://www.huntalternatives.or...

Kuroptd
Kuroptd

You seem to have missed the entire point of this article.

freedomworker
freedomworker

What a bazaar posting. Is this your attempt at sarcasm?? Not amusing.

MJM
MJM

To compare the science behind global warming --which does in fact meet the standards lacking in this study, and which has been replicated many times --is simply another form of mental laziness.

gene
gene

And the ageaanda is the slavery and abuse of girls--problem with that?

Norah Fangora
Norah Fangora

They WANTED to be prostituted and trafficked? Taken away from friends and family? Because having your money stolen, being beaten by your pimp and hooked on drugs to stay and turn trick with ugly old dudes is so fun and glamorous?

Regardless of their hormones, teen girls don't want to be prostituted or trafficked - and that's the topic at hand here.

If you merely trying to say that girls want to have sex then I'm not surprised, since I was a teenage girl that not long ago. (and really no one should be surprised that teenagers get horny). But doesn't change the fact that they can't legally CONSENT to it.

Clashman
Clashman

kids are going to explode? wow!

Micahames
Micahames

that might be true in certain situations but not for all. craigslist should not be punished for what someone else wants to do. this will not stop prostitution. if someone is being abused then the should seek help and if not then they're doing what they want. craigslist is just a scapegoat. focus on the real issue...if there is one. if someone wants to prostitute themselves then why should anyone else care? it's their choice, not yours.

 
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