News media reports last September reported data from a group called the Women’s Funding Network asserting that the number of underage girls trafficked online “has risen exponentially in three diverse states”–Michigan, by 39.2 percent, New York, by 20.7 percent, and Minnesota, by 64.7 percent. The report is “junk science,” says the Village Voice.
The numbers are guesses. The data are based merely on looking at photos on the Internet. Eric Grodsky, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota who teaches about proper research construction, says that the study is fundamentally flawed. “The method’s not clean,” Grodsky says. “You couldn’t get this kind of thing into a peer-reviewed journal. There are just too many unanswered questions about their methodology.” Ric Curtis, chairman of the anthropology department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who led a Justice Department-funded study on juvenile prostitution in New York City, is skeptical of the claims in the Women’s Funding Network’s study. “I wouldn’t trust those numbers,” he says. “This new study seems pretty bogus.”