Last year you joined me in my campaign to stand up for the lives and dignity of child trafficking victims by calling on the Associated Press to stop offensively and improperly labeling them as “child prostitutes.” Together we stood up to say that there is #NoSuchThing as a “child prostitute,” and that labeling trafficking victims as such is not just psychologically damaging, but also affects the way that lawmakers, the police and our society treat them. Our voices have been heard. Today I am thrilled to tell you that the Associated Press has announced that they will no longer use the term “child prostitute.”

This move will have a widespread effect: the AP Stylebook is widely used as a writing and editing guide in newsrooms, classrooms and corporate offices around the world.

As a scholar in communications, I understand how semantics play an integral part in the way in which we view and treat specific populations. For the AP to make this change in their style guide, it is not only historic in the movement to fight against human trafficking, but also stands as a clear symbol to those who've overcome such circumstances that they are way more than the labels that have been previously used to define them.

This is an impactful move by a media leader toward reversing the psychology of the persons affected, and toward societal acknowledgement that they are indeed victims. Thank you to the AP for making this critical change that will undoubtedly enhance society's comprehension of this population but also promote the vision of a healthier self for all those impacted.

It has been an honor partnering with Rights4Girls in seeing this change through. Finally, I must thank each and every one of you for raising your voices to help make this change possible. I could never have imagined when we first started this petition that we would have more than 150,000 signatures. Your support is proof that change is truly possible.

– Withelma "T" Ortiz Walker Pettigrew