Women's Funding Network Sex-Trafficking Study Is Junk Science

Schapiro Group data wasn't questioned by mainstream media

Women's Funding Network Sex-Trafficking Study Is Junk Science

Attorneys representing Craigslist told Congress last Sept. 15 that the ubiquitous web classifieds site was closing its adult section.

Under intense scrutiny from the government and crusading advocacy groups, as well as state attorneys general, owner Craig Newmark memorably applied the label "Censored" in his classifieds where adult advertising once appeared.

During the same September hearing of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary, members of Congress listened to vivid and chilling accounts regarding underage prostitution.

Jesse Lenz
Steve Doig says the Schapiro study is based on a logical fallacy
Steve Doig says the Schapiro study is based on a logical fallacy

Details

DETAILS:

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 (WFN) and its 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 WFN held symposiums across America—from Seattle to Miami—denouncing Backpage. Indeed, we were never asked for a 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.

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The congressmen heard testimony from half a dozen nonprofit executives and law-enforcement officials. But the most alarming words of the day came from Deborah Richardson, the chief program officer of the Women's Funding Network (WFN). She told legislators that juvenile prostitution is exploding at an astronomical rate.

"An independent tracking study released today by the Women's Funding Network shows that over the past six months, the number of underage girls trafficked online has risen exponentially in three diverse states," Richardson claimed. "Michigan: a 39.2 percent increase; New York: a 20.7 percent increase; and Minnesota: a staggering 64.7 percent increase."

In the wake of this bombshell revelation, Richardson's disturbing figures found their way into some of the biggest newspapers in the country. USA Today, the Houston Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Detroit Free Press all repeated the dire statistics.

The successful assault on Craigslist was followed by a cross-country tour by Richardson and WFN.

None of the media that published Richardson's astonishing numbers bothered to examine the study at the heart of Richardson's claim. If they had, they would have found what we did after asking independent experts to examine the research: It's junk science.

After all, the numbers are all guesses.

The data are based merely on looking at photos on the Internet. There is no science.

Eric Grodsky, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota who teaches about proper research construction, says the study is fundamentally flawed. "The method's not clean," he says. "You couldn't get this kind of thing into a peer-reviewed journal. There are just too many unanswered questions about the methodology."

Ric Curtis, the chairman of the Anthropology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, led a Justice Department-funded study on juvenile prostitution in New York City in 2008. He's highly skeptical of the claims in WFN's study. "I wouldn't trust those numbers," he says. "This new study seems pretty bogus."

In fact, the group behind the study admits as much. It's now clear it used fake data to deceive the media and lie to Congress. And it was all done to score free publicity and a wealth of public funding.

"We pitch it the way we think you're going to read it and pick up on it," says Kaffie McCullough, the director of Atlanta-based anti-prostitution group A Future Not a Past. "If we give it to you with all the words and the stuff that is actually accurate—I mean, I've tried to do that with our PR firm, and they say, 'They won't read that much.'"

*     *     *

A Future Not a Past is a product of the Atlanta Women's Foundation, the Juvenile Justice Fund, and Harold and Kayrita Anderson's foundation. To measure the amount of juvenile prostitution in the state, the consortium hired the Schapiro Group, an Atlanta business-consulting operation.

The Schapiro Group's members weren't academic researchers and had no prior experience studying prostitution. In fact, the group was best known for research paid for by the American Chamber of Commerce. The study found—surprise—that membership in the Chamber of Commerce improves a business's image.

The consultants came up with a novel, if not very scientific, method for tabulating juvenile prostitutes: They counted pictures of young-looking women on online classified sites.

"That's one of the first problems right there," Grodsky says. "These advertisers are in the business of making sales, and there's a market for young-looking women. Why would you trust that the photographs are accurate?"

In other words, the ads, like the covers of women's magazines, are relentlessly promoting fantasy. Anyone who has tried online dating understands the inherent trouble with trusting photographs.

Even if the person placing the advertisement is the one in the picture, there's no telling how old the photo is, says David Finkelhor, the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. "How do you know when the pictures were taken?" he 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."

And if, for the sake of argument, the photos were an accurate portrayal, how do you train those viewing the photographs to guess the correct age?

In fact, you don't.

Before conducting its full study, the Schapiro Group tested the accuracy of its method in a sample of 100 observers. At one point, the 100 observers are described as a "random sample." Elsewhere, they are described as "balanced by race and gender."

These 100 adults were shown pictures of teenagers and young adults whose ages were known. They were asked to guess whether the subjects of the photos were younger than 18.

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34 comments
Codewizard
Codewizard

*lmao* The OC Weekly blasts a study and uses nothing but quotes, from dubious sources, who most likely have ‘axes to grind.’ (how would we know, you didn’t do your journalist thing, you know, investigate and report!) OCW claims the group lied, WITH NO backing evidence.

And you deign to complain about others doing the same thing? Are you PO’d they are treading on your turf? OCW then trots out a statement made by a different group about different publicity AND not even backing up the OCW claims. This is of course exactly what they are accusing the first group of doing.

Misleading, poorly researched, and written by what appears to be a High School Journo wannabe. If you are going to attack other’s claims, you need to be able to back up your claims. Fail.

Too bad most of your readers are not going actually think about what you wrote, they will swallow it ‘whole hog.'

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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.

Super Bowl 2011:

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?????

WHERE ARE THE THOUSANDS OF SUPER BOWL KIDNAPPED FORCED CHILD SEX SLAVES???????

Politicians, women's groups, police and child advocates were predicting that up to 100,000 hookers would be shipped into Dallas for the Super Bowl.

It was all a big lie told by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, government officials, and various anti-prostitution groups: Traffick911, Not for Sale, Change-org, Polaris Project, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation, which are anti-prostitution groups that tell lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries, and get huge amounts of money into their organizations. As proved in the links 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.

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

Here is some more information about this:

http://the-myth-of-sex-traffic...

http://sextraffickingtruths.bl...

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

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

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Football Fan
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Super Bowl 2011:

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?????

WHERE ARE THE THOUSANDS OF SUPER BOWL KIDNAPPED FORCED CHILD SEX SLAVES???????

Politicians, women's groups, police and child advocates were predicting that up to 100,000 hookers would be shipped into Dallas for the Super Bowl.

It was all a big lie told by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, government officials, and various anti-prostitution groups: Traffick911, Not for Sale, Change-org, Polaris Project, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation, which are anti-prostitution groups that tell lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries, and get huge amounts of money into their organizations. As proved in the links 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.

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

Here are some good links about this:

http://sextraffickingtruths.bl...

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

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Most of the statistics about sexual harassment and assault are similarly bogus.

Bill T.
Bill T.

An obviously hyperbolic statement was aboiut the "exponential" growth as evidenced by one data point. One data point does not demonstarte exponential growth. what appears to be three points are actually single independent points.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

LOL you mean people actually think the photos posted in either personals or pay for play sites are really the people responding to the ad? LOL

I wonder if the 100,000 child prostitutes that (were to) invade the super bowl have been arraigned yet? not one out of town business girl was arrested from what I read.

Bill T.
Bill T.

When you never know when what would be considered to be pretty tame by most people might be considered as intentional hostility by a few hyper-sensitives then skewing of the numbers is the natural result. I'll call you sir as long as you don't call me surely.

 
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