Why We Must Arrest Child Prostitutes It may sound cruel, but it could be the only thing that saves them By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Mar 4, 2011 1:29 PM CST 8 comments Comments A 13 year-old girl forced into street prostitution walks by a road in Kinshasa on November 7, 2010. (Getty Images) (Newser) – With the average age of a girl entering prostitution at 13—and getting lower—the idea of decriminalizing childhood prostitution certainly sounds compassionate. After all, isn't arresting a young girl, who's presumably been victimized by a pimp, like punishing her a second time? Precisely the opposite, write Janice Shaw Crouse and Penny Young Nance for Aol News. In fact, "ask rescued children ... and many will say that their arrest is the only reason they are alive today." And that's why decriminalization, an idea that has already become law in four states, "is a well-meaning but flawed solution that will only make the problem worse." Decriminalizing child prostitution means effectively "removing the only safe and secure protection these vulnerable children have from the pimps—being arrested and placed under the protective custody of law enforcement," they continue. In fact, it will allow pimps to manipulate children by telling them "law enforcement can't touch them and won't help them." And while sending child prostitutes to shelters or treatment programs, rather than jail, also sounds good on paper, the truth is that if these kids are not charged with a crime, their participation in such programs is voluntary: "They are free to walk out at any time." Click for the full piece, including two more reasons not to decriminalize.