(CBS/AP) HAYWARD, Calif. - Seven pimps were arrested and six teenage girls working as prostitutes were rescued last week in the San Francisco Bay area, authorities said. The prostitution sting was part of the latest installment of Operation Cross Country, a nationwide crackdown on child prostitution which rescued 79 children in a three-day sweep last week,reports.
The Hayward Police Department announced the Bay Area arrests on Monday. The girls - ages 15 to 17 - were found working as prostitutes in Oakland, San Francisco and San Rafael.
Dozens of adult prostitutes were also arrested in the Bay Area.
The prostitution sting was part of the three-day Operation Cross Country, which combined the efforts of FBI agents with state and local police officials, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
The FBI said this sixth deployment of Operation Cross Country resulted in the arrests of 104 suspected pimps and the rescue of 79 children across the country.
Ernie Allen, president of NCMEC, told CBS News that many communities have turned a blind eye to child prostitution. But Allen said the deployment of 2,500 officers in 57 cities in this operation shows that public attitudes are changing.
"This is not just a problem on the other side of the world. It is happening in U.S. cities, and average people doing average things can help put an end to it," he said, adding that the FBI's hotline for cyber-crimes has handled 12,000 tips about child trafficking and prostitution.
Allen called for an increase in social services for the prostitutes themselves since many have nowhere to go when they are released from police custody.
"These kids are really damaged," Allen said. "They require a specialized kind of help."
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