Robert J. Flores is the head of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the Department of Justice. He is a former Manhattan A.D.A. who now administers the federal funds that fight the sex trafficking of minors in New York. “There’s a suggestion that this is a type of prostitution,” he says. “It’s not. It’s really the commercialized rape of our children.” Yet even he backs off from anything that looks like decriminalization. “We don’t want to see child prostitution legalized,” Flores continues. “The fact that this conduct remains illegal serves as a warning for everybody, including the teenagers, that they are doing something that’s wrong. But that does not equate with treating that child as an offender.”
Except, of course, that it does.