December 15, 2013

I applaud The Post’s Dec. 9 Business article “Human trafficking battled by text message” about the efforts of the Polaris Project to combat human trafficking via text-messaging, especially given recent news of alleged involvement of two D.C. police officers in sexual misconduct with minors.

We must not make the mistake of calling sexual exploitation of underage teens a form of prostitution. The Dec. 7 Metro article “Lanier: Sex accusations against pair tarnish all officers” linked “an alleged prostitution ring” with “a 16-year-old girl.”

Missing or runaway teens are among the most at-risk of being trafficked. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, any minor induced to perform commercial sex acts is a victim of human trafficking.

Let us keep this issue before our eyes so that this modern form of slavery can be recognized and stopped and the victims can get the help they need. This past week, Officer Marc Washington, who was being investigated in one case, was found dead of an apparent suicide, bringing another sad reminder of how many victims there are in human trafficking.

Mary Jo Stein, Hyattsville

The writer is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Coalition Against Modern Slavery.