Katie Couric's Notebook: Sex Trafficking

If a fourteen-year-old sells her body, is she committing a crime -- or the victim of one?

Increasingly, our laws are starting to recognize that most young people engaged in prostitution are actually being exploited by someone else. And what they really need isn't punishment - it's help.

Every year, an estimated 100,000 minors are forced into prostitution in this country. Yet there are fewer than 100 beds available to them in specialized shelters nationwide.

The Senate recently passed a bill that would provide more shelter beds and counseling for victims, plus more money for law enforcement to go after pimps and traffickers. The bill is now pending in the House, but may not make it to a vote before recess.

I'm sure Congress is eager to get home for the holidays, but this is one bill that simply can't wait. These children don't get a holiday from the horrors they endure... but the New Year could bring new hope that somebody out there cares.

That's a page from my notebook.

I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.