Child prostitutes should be treated not as criminals but as victims of sexual abuse, just like children involved in pornography, according to a September 2013 report by the National Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.
The reasoning behind this approach is that many children performing these sexual duties are being coerced to do so. These children usually come from broken homes that often include drug dealers, abusers, or alcoholics. These kinds of conditions leave the children susceptible to prostitution.
Nevertheless, in Alameda County, California, alone, hundreds of juveniles were arrested and charged with prostitution-related crimes between 2008 and 2012, reports the Center for Public Integrity.
This is, of course, not solely a U.S. problem. According to the Asia Society, an estimated 30 million people worldwide have been victims of sexual exploitation in the past 30 years. Most people involved in this activity are trying to escape from poverty, and this is the only route they see. The U.S. State Department estimates that between 600,000 to 800,000 people have been brought and sold across international borders, about half of them children.
Most children do not grow up believing that they are going to become prostitutes. They have dreams of their own. If they are arrested and put in the system at such a young age, this could further damage them as they get older. With treatment and counseling, not incarceration, for the youth involved with sex trafficking, they can understand that this is not their only way of life.
Susan Ferriss, “Report Urges New Approach to Child Prostitution” Center for Public Integrity. Last modified September 26, 2013. http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/09/26/13468/report-urges-new-approach-child-prostitution
Ruchira Gupta, “Trafficking of Children for Prostitution and the UNICEF Response,” Asia Society, December 14, 2013, http://asiasociety.org/policy/social-issues/human-rights/trafficking-children-prostitution-and-unicef-response.
Jennifer Silberman, “How to Stop Trafficking,” Forbes, July 30, 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/07/30/how-to-stop-global-child-trafficking/.
Student Researcher: Samuel Ogunyoye (Frostburg State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Duncan (Frostburg State University)