Commercial Sexual Exploitation of
A Literature Review
June 1, 1999
In Collaboration with:
The Alliance for Speaking Truths on Prostitution
The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
Definition of Pornography *
Effects of Pornography *
Finding Information on Pornography is Difficult *
Pornography Industry *
Pornography in the United States *
Definition of a Pedophile *
Pedophile characteristics *
Pedophile Organizations *
Technology Support for Pedophiles *
Children Are Ideal Victims *
Linking Pornography to Prostitution *
Sexual Trafficking *
Sexual Trafficking Focuses on Children *
Limitations of Knowledge on Sexual Trafficking *
Statistical Evidence *
Worldwide Presence *
Constant Demand Supports Trafficking *
Sex Tourism *
History of Sex Tourism *
Worldwide Presence *
Sex Tourism Exists in the United States *
Sex Tourism is Located in the Midwest *
Characteristics of Sex Rings *
Types of Sex Rings *
Length of Time *
Prostitution of Children *
Definition of Prostitution *
Number of Juvenile Male Prostitutes *
Characteristics Specific to Male Prostitutes *
How males become involved *
Age of Entry for Female Prostitutes *
How females become involved *
Methods of Engaging Females into Prostitution *
Characteristics of Female Prostitutes *
Comparison of Female and Male Prostitution *
Life Traits Common to Prostitution *
Juvenile Prostitution is Increasing *
Myths Regarding Prostitution *
Information on Teenage Prostitution is Difficult to Find *
How Underage Prostitutes Avoid Detection *
International Numbers on Juvenile Prostitution *
Prevalence of Juvenile Prostitution in the US *
Midwest Connection *
Prostitution Pipeline *
Health Risks *
Sex Offender Traits *
Exiting Prostitution *
Child Sexual Abuse *
Definition of Sexual Abuse *
Estimates of Abused Children *
Abuse is Linked to Prostitution *
Effects of Abuse *
The Alliance for Speaking Truths on Prostitution, together with the Center
for Urban and Regional Affairs, sponsored this literature review as a
collaborative effort to gather information on a topic that affects millions of
people throughout the world. Children everywhere, including the Midwest, are
being exploited on a daily basis. This project brings together many types of
studies, research, and data on commercial sexual exploitation of children in
order to gain a greater understanding of the issue and to identify areas where
more work needs to be done.
A definition of commercial sexual exploitation may clarify the issue this
paper addresses. "Commercial" refers to the exchange of money; "sexual" to the
sexual acts that are purchased or viewed; "exploitation" to the fact that a
person is used unjustly for the advantage of another. This project identifies
the present research available on the commercial sexual exploitation of children
at three different levels: the world, the United Sates, and most specifically,
in the Midwest. For sections referring specifically to the Midwest please refer
to pages 20 and 35.
This analysis addresses the three primary aspects of commercial sexual
exploitation of children: stripping, pornography, and prostitution. A majority
of this paper discusses the available research on prostitution, which is central
to all types of commercial sexual exploitation. This literature review provides
basic information on the different types of exploitation, the many facets of
each type, and the various effects on individuals, families, and
Initially this information will be used to inform youth, parents, and leaders
of what is happening to children within our communities. In addition, this
research provides a baseline of information that will allow interested
individuals to make comparisons in the future and to eventually observe trends.
Finally, this analysis identifies areas of research that require further
development before the exploitation of children can be eliminated.
Strip clubs regularly promote dancers through their association with the porn
industry; porn stars often earn more money by stripping than by performing in
hard-core videos. (Juffer, 43). Strip clubs are doubly articulated to the porn
industry- both through the overlap in performers and the conventions of their
routines and through zoning regulations that set them apart as a clearly male
form of entertainment. (Juffer, 43).
Definition of Pornography
The legal definition of the term ‘child pornography’ varies from state to
state and under Federal law. (OJJDP, Understanding Sexual Exploitation, 3).
Under most definitions, child pornography involves a visual depiction of a child
that is sexually explicit. (Id.). Child pornography can be behaviorally (not
legally) defined as the sexually explicit reproduction of a child’s image.
(NCMEC, Child Molesters, 24). In essence, it is the permanent record of the
sexual abuse or exploitation of an actual child. (Id.). Child pornography can be
divided into two subcategories that focus on actual use. (Id.). First,
commercial child pornography is that which is produced and intended for
commercial sale. (Id.). The second is homemade child pornography. Homemade
simply means it was not originally produced primarily for commercial sale.
(Id.). Generally homemade pornography is used solely by the individual that
exploits the child. The question of what constitutes child pornography is
extremely complex because the standards applied are highly subjective and
contingent upon a host of cultural, sexual, moral and religious beliefs that do
not readily translate into law. (Campagna, 117).
Significant effects of pornography are feelings of aggression and abuse.
Exposure to particular kinds of erotic imagery can result in an increase in
aggressive sexual fantasies, aggressive behavior, acceptance of anti-female
attitudes, and specifically, in male aggression against females. (Malamuth, 9).
Case histories of victims and perpetrators of pornography demonstrate that
pornography serves as a catalyst for sexual and other physical abuse of human
beings. (Osanka, 116). Some researchers believe that if the perpetrators had not
been exposed to or involved in creating pornography, many of the victims would
not have been killed, raped, or otherwise abducted. (Osanka, 116). Oftentimes
the violence portrayed in pornography becomes real as the offender ‘plays out’
the pornography on the people, and most often prostitutes, that they encounter.
The feelings of aggression identified above do not solely affect adults, but
also children. There are many cases where children, imitating pornographic
scenarios, sexually or otherwise physically abuse other children. (Osanka, 102).
A woman who testified at the Minneapolis anti-pornography hearings in 1983 said
that her daughter was gang raped by four tenth grade boys who used pornographic
magazines to threaten and terrify her. (Id.). They made her daughter pose in the
positions shown in the pornography magazines. (Id.).
In addition, pornography seriously affects the children involved in its
production. Pornography is psychologically damaging to the child, it ruin’s a
child’s self image, it is exploitative, it makes children vulnerable to adults
in unnatural ways, it spreads incorrect information about sex, it forever
invades a child’s privacy, and it complicates a child’s moral development.
(Osanka, 456). Pornography poses an even greater threat to
the child victim than does sexual abuse or prostitution. (Shouvlin, 1981).
Because the child’s actions are reduced to a recording, the pornography may
haunt him in future years, long after the original misdeed took place. (Id.). A
child who has posed for the camera must go through life knowing that the
recording is circulating within the mass distribution system for child
pornography. (Id.). In addition, pornography can be used for blackmail, profit,
instructional aids to indoctrinate other victims, self gratification,
conditioning to lower a victim’s inhibitions, advertising, collections, sexual
record, access to other offenders and markets. (Campagna, 118).
Finding Information on Pornography is
Because production, distribution and sale of child pornography are secretive
businesses, the determination of the extent of the problem is extremely
difficult. (Brown, 1979). There are neither national reporting systems nor
statewide data-processing procedures to establish accurate statistics on child
pornography. (O’Brien, 17). Even in areas where there are reporting systems in
place, children are unlikely to come forward. This is because children are
afraid to tell anyone about the incident out of fear of punishment or blame.
Also, there is a lack of standardization in data gathering, since definitions
of sexual offenses vary by state and community. (O’Brien, 17). There are no
national statistics on sexual-assault victims by age or sex. (Id.). As a result,
postal inspectors confirm that it is almost impossible to determine the extent
of child pornography that flows through the mails. (Id. at 18).
Pornography businesses cite estimates from $4 billion to $7 billion a year in
US sales. (Dines, 17). Both production and sales of pornography are at an all
time high (rental and sales of videos reached the $3 billion mark in 1995), and
the industry is moving into newer technologies such as the Internet. (Id. at
37). The number of erotic books published between 1991 and 1996 increased by
324% while the overall number of books published increased by only 83%. (Juffer,
5). New estimates of adult videos show that the number of hard-core video
rentals rose from 75 million in 1985 to 490 million in 1992, then to 665 million
in 1996. (Id.). Child pornography represents a part of the booming sex industry.
Pornography in the United
Child pornography remains a major problem in the United States. (Osanka, 466
and Campagna, 119). By one estimate, the sex industry in the United States
grossed $5 billion in 1980. (O’Brien, 18). Others estimate that $8 to $10
million dollars a day is spent on pornography. (Hunter, 1994). The best estimate
of the approximate number of US consumers who ‘read’ at least one porn magazine
in 1996 totaled just over 5.5 million. (Russell, 31). An estimated 43% of
American males were exposed to at least one of the seven porn magazines in 1995.
(Id. at 32). This is likely to be an underestimate since there are actually
hundreds more than the seven porn magazines that were the focus of this
The volume of material produced by child pornographers and pedophiles on a
routine basis within the United States is enormous. (Campagna, 119). The
evidence confiscated from sex rings and convicted pedophiles indicate that many
offenders produce child pornography for their own consumption in sufficient
quantities to warrant elaborate classification and index schemes. (Id.). One
reason that the presence of pornography is so extensive is that pornography is
much in demand and expensive, yet can be produced in the United States at a
minimal cost and risk to the photographer. (Id.). In addition, no federal
enforcement agency has sought to comprehensively monitor or identify the volume
and distribution of child pornography manufacturers within the United States.
The amount of income generated from the sale of child pornography is a matter
of widespread speculation because of the absence of reliable data. (Campagna,
133). One author indicated that $1 billion is generated by child pornography.
(Joseph, 1995). The profitability of child pornography has never been in doubt
because of the high ratio of income to expense. (Campagna, 133). The
photographer who has a large clientele or a steady buyer at the wholesale level
is assured of enough profit to offset the risk of detection, arrest, and
confiscation of his goods. (Id.). In addition, the rapid growth of
communications technology is making it easier and safer for pornographers to
operate outside the limits of the law. (Id.).
Children are being exploited by pornographers throughout the United States.
Authorities on the sexual exploitation of children estimate that 7% of the
pornography market in the US involves activity between children and other
children and adults. (O’Brien, 19). Statistics based on information from three
states (California, Texas, and New York), estimate that between 40,000 and
120,000 children were involved each year in pornography and/or prostitution.
(O’Brien, 19). Estimates of the number of children involved across America range
from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands. (Tyler, 1985). One thing is
clear, a significant number of children are being sexually exploited through the
medium of child pornography. (Id.).
Definition of a
A pedophile is a person who derives gratification from engaging in sexual
activities with minors. (Campagna, 18). Child pornographers may be teachers,
lawyers, doctors, law enforcement officers, members of the clergy, laborers: In
sum, child pornographers are from all walks of life. (Tyler, 1985). Although it
is usually assumed that most pedophiles or child molesters are males, we have
observed an increase in the number of recorded incidents involving female
pedophiles. (Campagna, 21).
Beyond the collecting of child pornography, traits of pedophiles are
difficult to isolate. (Campagna, 24). The single most distinctive characteristic
of a habitual child molester is a compelling interest in collecting adult and
child pornography. (Id. at 30). Law enforcement investigations have verified
that pedophiles almost always collect child pornography or child erotica.
(NCMEC, Child Molesters, 23).
Child pornography and child erotica are used by pedophiles in the following
- Sexual arousal and gratification.
- Lower children’s inhibitions for further sexual abuse.
- Blackmail the child to keep the secret of sexual abuse.
- Medium of exchange with other pedophiles.
- Profit. (NCMEC, Child Molesters, 28-9).
- Pedophiles believe that if they do not do physical damage, they have not
harmed the child.
- Pedophiles believe that society is wrong for condemning them for
expressing their true sexuality.
- If there is no evidence to prove molestation, pedophiles will deny
ever having sex with a child.
- The pedophile will often state that the child enlisted the sexual
services of the adult.
- Pedophiles maintain an inventory of all the child pornography they
- Most pedophiles want to recount their thoughts and experiences to
- Some male pedophiles are impotent with adults. (Burgess, 29).
The standard strategies of a pedophile are alternating affection and abuse to
leave the child confused, and telling the child that the sex is special but must
be kept a secret from others. (Dines, 89).
There are several organizations in this country and around the world that
openly voice support adult sex with children. (NCMEC, Child Molesters, 41).
Organizations and publications that advocate adult-child sex are scattered
throughout the world. (Campagna, 36). They perform an assortment of functions
and exist for the following purposes:
- To recruit and expedite the exchange of information and correspondence
- To act as a medium for advertisers and distributors of soft-core child
- To promote political activism and organization.
- To alert members and subscribers to recent court decisions and active
- To provide a bulletin board news services as to the whereabouts of
sexually available minors.
- To raise funds for legal representation of accused pedophiles.
- To offer sexual stimulation in the form of erotic fiction or suggestive
photographs of minors. (Campagna, 36).
Some examples of these organizations are the Paedophile Information Exchange
(PIE) and the North American Man-Boy Love Association, which was founded in
Boston in 1978 to "promote pedophilia as a lifestyle, to defend men accused of
sex crimes involving boys, and to lobby against age of consent laws for sexual
activity." (Osanka, 451).
Technology Support for Pedophiles
The information superhighway has given a technological boost to pedophiles.
(Joseph, 1995). As yet on-line services are only self-regulated and acquisition
of ideas and materials are easily sent across public bulletin boards. (Id.).
Pedophiles can easily contact each other and can contact children without postal
service restrictions applying and without leaving the privacy of their own
An example of the ease in which the sexual exploitation of children occurs
over the Internet is the Orchid Club. The Orchid Club was once a lurid corner on
the information superhighway, an Internet conference room or ‘chat’ room were
members thousands of miles apart could meet in cyberspace and trade homemade
child pornography, both in words and pictures. (Child Sex Trade, 1996). No one
could join the club without a referral from a member, and initiates were
required to send other members a description of a sexual encounter with a child.
(Id.). Members did not only share live conversations, but also transmitted
digitized pictures and live video images of children as they were being molested
by a member. (Id.).
As home access to the Internet grows rapidly, so too does the threat that
this on-line medium will expand opportunities for sexual exploitation of
children. About 10 million people use on-line services and tens of millions more
use the Internet worldwide. (Child Sex Trade, 1996). There is only a click of a
mouse between a normal kid’s chat room and a pedophile chat room. (Id.). Given
the anonymity that is possible on the Internet, an increasing number of
pedophiles are feigning youth in their electronic personae as they troll through
various forums looking for children to abuse. (Id.). Pretending to be a child,
the pedophile may converse with a real child in an open chat forum. (Id.). This
is only a short step away from a ‘private’ one on one chat room. (Id.).
The computer offers multiple opportunities for identity bending, as users are
free to adopt the gender, age, sexuality, race, physical appearance, and other
characteristics they so choose. (Juffer, 11). And on the Internet, the line
between producers and consumers of pornography breaks down as users download
pornographic images and texts from adult bulletin boards and post them to
newsgroups, themselves becoming disseminators if not exactly the ‘original’
producers of pornographic images. (Id.).
Children Are Ideal
Child pornographers have little difficulty recruiting willing participants.
(Flowers, 122). The pool of susceptible child victims includes runaways,
throwaways, teen prostitutes, children from broken homes, homeless youth, drug
addicted children, and relatives or neighborhood youths looking for quick money,
excitement, or adventure. (Id.). Most children in prepubescent child pornography
were not abducted into sexual slavery. (NCMEC, Child Molesters, 25). Rather they
were seduced into posing for these pictures or videos by a pedophile they
probably knew. (Id.).
Children in general have certain characteristics that make them ideal victims
from the offender’s point of view. (Id. at 41). Some of these characteristics
include: natural curiosity, they are easily led by adults, they need attention
and affection, they also need to defy parents at some level, and finally,
children are often not believed when they report instances of sexual abuse.
(Id.). A Senate committee report suggested the following characteristics as
typical of a sexually exploited boy: between the ages of 8 and 17, an
underachiever at school or home, usually without previous homosexual experience,
comes from a home where the parents are absent in some manner, has no strong
moral or religious obligations, usually has no record of previous delinquency,
and suffers from poor sociological development. (NCMEC, Child Porn, 3).
Linking Pornography to Prostitution
Pornographic activity is a commonplace aspect of life for those involved in
prostitution. (Burgess, 139). Based on the number of studies examining the
connection between prostitution and pornography, it seems impossible to deny the
existence of a significant link between the exploitation of minors in
prostitution and in pornography. (NCMEC, Child Porn, 53). Former prostitute,
Terese, described the connection between pornography and prostitution when she
spoke on behalf of a group of women who were all former Minneapolis prostitutes
at a series of hearings in Minneapolis. She stated, "We were all introduced to
prostitution through pornography, there were no exceptions in our group, and we
were all under 18. Pornography was our textbook. We learned the tricks of the
trade by men exposing us to pornography and us trying to mimic what we saw. I
could not stress enough what a huge influence we feel this was." (Osanka, 107).
Much recent literature refers to the interrelationship between pornography
and juvenile prostitution, but there is no empirical research demonstrating such
a relationship. (Weisberg, 68). Weisberg found that there appears to be no
involvement between pornography and prostitution for males. (Id. at 69).
However, some studies have shown a direct link between female prostitutes and
pornography. (Flowers, 119). Female prostitution and the sex exploitation
industry have also been shown to correlate with other criminal activity, such as
organized crime and drug dealing, as well as with sexually transmitted diseases,
promiscuity and child sexual abuse. (Id.).
This chapter addresses the many aspects of child prostitution found
throughout the world. Included in this section are sexual trafficking, sex
tourism, sex rings, and child prostitution. Each section summarizes the
available information on the demand, location, and dynamics of each aspect of
The broadest definition of sexual trafficking is the sexual exploitation of a
person under the age of eighteen for pleasure or financial gain. (Campagna, 4).
This can include a multitude of crimes: child pornography, prostitution, sex
rings, molestation (outside of the family), sex tourism industry, white slavery,
bogus adoption schemes, nude dancing or modeling, apprenticeship or recruitment
for prostitution, procuring, and indenturing. (Id. at 5). Campagna uses a broad
definition because each offense represents a specific market that shares several
characteristics with the other markets, including an underage victim, one or
more adult offenders, and a mixture of sexual pleasure and financial motivation.
(Id.). When the commercial element is present, the victim is compelled to
exchange the use of his or her body for money, food, shelter alcohol, or drugs.
A narrower view of sexual trafficking is simply the
moving of individuals in large numbers across national borders, sometimes known
as the "white slave trade." (Ennew, 112). There are two types of traffic, one in
which the participant is aware of the circumstances and one in which they are
not. The first involves hiring an individual to engage in prostitution in any
country, state or territory other than that in which they live. (Id. at 113).
The second form is known as ‘disguised traffic’ and involves hiring women or
girls to work away from their homes in an industry in which they will likely
come into contact with pimps and prostitutes. (Id). Victims are coerced into
prostitution by being forced to repay debts to the employment agency that paid
for their ticket to another country and found them employment. (Id.). It should
be noted that it is not only women that are trafficked, many males and children
are also victims of sexual trafficking. (Altink, 6-7).
Sexual Trafficking Focuses on Children
One kind of traffic specializes in young children. (Ennew, 115). Most of the
information on this topic has been gathered by French lawyer Renee Bridel, who
alleges that children are either bought from desperate, impoverished parents by
false adopters who offer a better life abroad, or kidnapped and sold to middle
men who ship them abroad. (Id.). A typical report is that in which a Bolivian
lawyer was accused of having bought a boy from kidnappers for $40 and sold him
to a Belgian couple for $10,000. (Id.). There is little empirical evidence for
making a specific link between sex tourism and child prostitution, but it is
evident that it exists. (Id. at 111).
Limitations of Knowledge on Sexual Trafficking
One of the greatest obstacles to the study if sexual trafficking in minors is
the popular misconception that a wealth of information about these offenses has
already been accumulated. (Campagna, 8). The unfortunate fact is that such a
foundation of knowledge does not exist. (Id.). Theories and stereotypes abound,
but hard facts are woefully absent. (Id.). There remains an enormous volume of
illegal behavior connected with sexual trafficking that is, at best, only
partially reflected in official statistics. (Id. at 9). In short, more is known
about the volume and nature of shoplifting in the United States than about any
specific offense relating to the sexual exploitation of children.
Estimates of the number of victims of trafficking vary considerably due to
the variations on the definition of trafficking. (Altink, 2). Thousands or even
millions of individuals are supposed to be trafficked worldwide, depending on
the source. (Id. at 3). Advocates say that more than 1 million children are
affected by the child sex trade each year. (Child Sex Trade, 1996). This number
is growing, according to human rights groups and child advocates. (Id.).
Sexual trafficking occurs not only in Europe, but worldwide, not only from
north to south, but from Latin America to southern Europe and the Middle East,
from southeast Asia to the Middle East and central and northern Europe, from
South America to North America and Europe, and from eastern Europe to western
Europe. (Altink, 1). According to a United Nations official, trafficking in
women is more profitable than arms or drug smuggling. (Id. at 2). In Asia
several routes are well used: Women and girls are sent from Burma to Thailand,
from Nepal to India, from Vietnam to Cambodia. (Child Sex Trade, 1996).
Constant Demand Supports
The various market entrepreneurs operate on the premise that demand, though
it may be periodically restrained by law enforcement, will never disappear.
(Campagna, 6). Trafficking is supported by various human desires, including
sexual gratification, the pursuit of profit, and a depraved sort of personal
Sex tourism is traveling to another country for the purpose of sexual
exploitation. Package holidays are arranged for tourists through travel agents
in the developed world. (Ennew, 107). Sexual experience is an explicit part of
the package, indeed it may be the only object of the journey. (Id. at
History of Sex
The inclusion of sexual pleasure in the relationship between foreign travel
and enjoyment is not a recent phenomenon. (Ennew, 102). The assumption of the
eighteenth century, as for many twentieth century travelers, was that
unregulated sexuality is typical of non-Western societies. (Id. at 103). During
the Vietnam War, US servicemen generated a thriving sex trade that generated the
third largest source of Thailand’s foreign earnings. (Joseph, 1995). After the
US withdrawal, the economy faltered, but Thailand rebounded with tourism.
The past 40 years have seen a clear trend toward the commercialization of sex
within the tourist industry. (Ennew, 98). In recent years there have been many
reports of sex tourism in the South East Asian countries of Thailand, South
Korea and the Philippines. (Id. at 107). Tourists who take advantage of sex
package holidays travel from all over Western Europe, the United States,
Australia and Japan. (Id. at 108).
In the 1970s and 1980s the Spartacus Gay Guides, published in the
Netherlands, provided male homosexual tourists with up-to-date advice about the
availability of sexual contacts in most countries. (Ennew, 106). Development
expert Tim Bond estimated that there are about 2,000 boys between the ages of 7
and 17 that make their living prostituting themselves in the tourist areas of
Sri Lanka. (Id. at 107). A factor in the rise of sex tourism is in part the
erroneous belief that countries like Thailand were at low risk for HIV. (Joseph,
Sex Tourism Exists in the United States
There are clear differences in sexual preference which affect the extent to
which minors are involved in sex tourism. (Ennew, 106). Whatever the case, sex
tourism tends to emphasize the ready availability of young sexual partners in
tourist resorts. (Id.). In 1973 a guide entitled Where the Young Ones Are
gave male tourist information about the availability of child prostitutes in the
US. (Id.). However, once again we are faced with a lack of empirical evidence
identifying the extent of sex tourism.
Sex Tourism is Located in the Midwest
Sex tourism does occur in the Midwest. (Enablers, 78). Traveling out of state
or throughout the state of Minnesota was common for women in this study. (Id.).
The 5 Midwest states accounted for almost 40% of the states listed for travel.
(Id.). Most women traveled with other women or with their pimp and other women.
Most of the trips were for short periods of time. (Id.).
Tourism has emerged out of an exploitative system in which national images
are manipulated by profit seeking companies for sale to pleasure seeking
customers. (Ennew, 98). Rather than an aberration, sexual tourism is a part of
normal international relations – economic, political and ideological. (Id. at
103). Many if the host nations exploit this as a vital component of national
growth. (Id. at 98). Tourism has become too important to national economies for
governments to take ready action against prostitution. (Id. at 111). For
example, in Thailand tourism is the third largest component of the GNP, in the
Philippines it is the fourth. (Id.).
The main stimulus for sex tourism comes from customer demand. (Ennew, 110).
Tourists to such places expect to enjoy a relaxation of the moral restrictions
of their own culture, they expect ‘complete erotic freedom.’ (Id. at 103).
In the context of exploitation of children, a sex ring can be defined as a
situation in which one or more adults conspire and organize for the purpose of
promoting illicit sexual acts with and among minors. (Campagna, 39). These acts
include the production of pornography, prostitution, adult molestation of
children, the sale and transportation of minors for sexual purposes, the use of
juveniles to recruit other youths into the ring, and the use of blackmail,
deception, threats, peer pressure, or force to coerce or intimidate children
into sexual activity. (Id.).
Characteristics of Sex Rings
A child sex ring need not, and usually does not,
involve any moneymaking element. (OJJDP, Understanding Sexual Exploitation, 2).
When something of monetary value if exchanged, it is usually given by the
offender to the victim, as part of the seduction or ‘grooming’ process. (Id.). A
child sex ring can involve a daycare center, a school, a scout troop, a Little
League team, and neighborhood or runaway children. (Id.). It can also involve
interfamilial molestation of children, including the use of marriage or a
live-in relationship as a methods of access to children and the use of family
children to attract other victims. (Id.).
The following elements seem common to all rings: a high level of
planning and cooperation among offenders, multiplicity of victims, longevity of
the group, victimization of minors by other children, extensive range and
sophistication of sexual activities, and the potential to spill over into the
public domain of exploitation, as in the sale of child pornography. (Campagna,
Types of Sex Rings
There are three types of sex rings. (Burgess, 51). In solo rings, the adult
operates alone with a small group of children. (Id.). In transition rings, the
adult has begun to exchange or sell pornographic photographs of children and
tries to pressure the child in the next ring level. (Id.). In the syndicated
ring there is a well-structured organization formed for recruiting children,
producing pornography, delivering sexual services, and establishing an extensive
network of customers. (Id.).
Solo Sex Ring
Transition Sex Ring
Syndicated Sex Ring
|One adult offender, usually male
||Multiple adult offenders
||Multiple adult offenders|
|Multiple child victims, from infancy to
||Multiple child victims, usually adolescents,
abducted children, runaways, and victims of family violence, abuse and
||Multiple child victims, ages 11-16|
||Often precedes syndicated sex ring or sex for
hire operation (child prostitution)
||Exchange items (child pornography and
Above (NCMEC, Children traumatized, 13.).
Length of Time
An adult acting alone in collusion with others may exploit dozens of children
for decades, thus spawning a new generation of future offenders. (Campagna.
Prostitution of Children
Prostitution is the use of or participation of persons under the age of 18 in
sexual acts with adults or other minors where no force is present, including
intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, and sadomasochistic activities where money is
involved. (Flowers, 69). Juvenile prostitution is simply the sale of youthful
sexuality. (Ennew, 111). Because youth and physical attractiveness are for sale
alongside sexuality, it follows that higher prices will be paid for younger and
more attractive prostitutes. (Id. at 112). Juvenile prostitution is one of the
pivotal crimes of sexual trafficking. (Campagna, 57). From it other forms of
exploitation develop, such as involvement in pornography, apprenticeships, and
Number of Juvenile Male Prostitutes
It is unknown just how many male prostitutes there are in the United States.
(Flowers, 134). However, it is believed that approximately 35-40% of juvenile
prostitutes are male. (Sponsler, 1993). Some researchers believe the number to
be at least equal to the number of female prostitutes. (Flowers, 134). Campagna
estimates that there are approximately 100,000 to 200,000 full-time juvenile
hustlers of both sexes. (Cohen, 1987). James and Lloyd offer higher estimates of
about 300,000 male juveniles. (Id.).
Characteristics Specific to Male
Historically boys have been involved in organized prostitution to a greater
degree than girls. (Cohen, 1987). Callboy networks exists throughout the
country. (Id.). In addition, boy prostitution is often more hidden than female
prostitution, frequently taking place in city parks, street corners in certain
neighborhoods, bars, bathhouses, and motels. (Id.).
Research differs as to whether boys who prostitute themselves are gay or
bisexual. Some believe that one of the most distinctive attitudes of juvenile
prostitutes is that many do not consider sex with an adult male a homosexual
activity. (Campagna, 60). This is supported by earlier research that found that
boys described themselves as heterosexual and said they hustled only for the
money. (Cohen, 1987). However, more recent research has found that most
adolescent male prostitutes identify themselves as gay. (Id.).
Popular juvenile male hustlers have several traits in common: youthful
appearance, including smooth feminine features and a lack of muscle tone,
exceptional sexual sophistication or skills, easy rapport with customers, and a
façade of naiveté tempered with street sense. (Campagna, 60). The world of
adolescent male prostitutes is distinctive for their freelance status, passive
roles in sex, lower earnings, bisexual behavior, and methods of customer-hustler
communication. (Id. at 63). Boys tend to age out of prostitution earlier than
girls, in their mid-teens and early twenties. (Sponsler, 1993).
Another feature is also important; violence is endemic to this lifestyle.
(Sponsler, 1993). The opportunities for bodily harm, either to them or their
customers, are rampant. (Id.). An indicator of this is that runaway boys have
been victimized and murdered in large-scale serial murder cases more often than
girls. (Cohen, 1987). The mortality rate for young men is high due to drug
overdose, AIDS, and violence. (Sponsler, 1993).
Juvenile male prostitutes come from many racial groups, but researchers
overwhelmingly concur that the majority are Caucasian. (Weisberg, 87).
Adolescent prostitutes first become involved in prostitution at an early age.
(Id. at 94). Most researchers agree that the vast majority of juvenile
prostitutes are under age 16 when they first engage in prostitution and the
average age for the first prostitution act is 14. (Id.).
There are several categories of male prostitutes:
1. Situational prostitutes- young men who engage in prostitution only under
certain circumstances or occasions.
2. Habitual prostitutes - young men involved in inner-city street life for
which prostitution is an intregal aspect of a street lifestyle.
3. Vocational prostitutes - young men who view prostitution as a career and
regard themselves a s professionals.
4. Avocational prostitutes - vocational prostitutes who regard their work as
part time employment. (Weisberg, 40).
How males become involved
There are several explanations for how juvenile males become involved in
prostitution. The foremost influence is peer pressure, the subtle actions of
friends can prod a novice to experiment with prostitution. (Weisberg, 45). A
second explanation is prior sexual abuse, either within the family or by a
stranger. (Id.). A third indicator involves prior homosexual experience or
preference that encourages an adolescent male to experiment with prostitution.
(Id.). One final explanation involves environmental factors such as lack of
adequate parental supervision, illiteracy, the absence of a structured set of
values, and the depreciation through abuse of the value of the human body.
(Id.). Most studies concur that fathers of male prostitutes, more often than
mothers, are either absent or ineffective. (Id.). While girls also mention
glamour and excitement as their reason for entering prostitution, boys involved
in hustling nearly always cite their reasons as financial. (Cohen,
Age of Entry for Female Prostitutes
The average age of entering prostitution varies depending on the study. Some
studies found that girl prostitutes are as young as 5 or 6 when they begin to
prostitute. (Flowers, 81). However, most find that the vast majority of female
teens selling their bodies falls between the ages of 15 and 17. (Id.). Another
study found that the age of initiation ranges from nine to twelve. (Cohen,
1987). In a separate study the children used as prostitutes in some area ranged
from 4 to 12 or 13 years. (Joseph, 1995). In a study examining 620 homeless
youth it was reported that 76% of the involved youth had sexual intercourse
before age 15 years, and 26% had sex before their 10th birthday. (Yates, 1991).
A final study determined that the average age of involvement in prostitution was
fourteen. (Hunter, 1994).
A girl who begins prostitution at fourteen will have submitted to the sexual
demands of four thousand men before she is old enough to drive a car, eight
thousand men before she is old enough to vote, and twelve thousand men before
she is deemed mature enough to buy a single beer in most states. (Giobbe,
The demand for underage females, may, in fact, rival that for adult
prostitutes. (Campagna, 65). Profit expectations are linked to several factors:
the hustler’s age and appearance (the younger, the more expensive), the type of
sexual act, the location, the opportunity for blackmail, and the customer’s
willingness to pay exorbitant fees. (Id.).
How females become involved
One of the precursors to entering prostitution was prior sexual
mistreatment at the hands of their father, stepfather, uncle, or mother’s
boyfriend. (Campagna, 65). Most studies have found the home life of the juvenile
who becomes involved in prostitution characterized by violence, lack of parental
love and affection, and alcohol abuse. (Cohen, 1987). Parental abuse or neglect
is widely considered a typical childhood experience of girls who become
prostitutes. (Brown, 1979).
Another common factor for many females that become involved in prostitution
is a high drop out rate. (Cohen, 1987 and Brown, 1979). This may be caused by
change, which seems to be an important factor is increasing psychological
disorientation and disruptions at home or school and which may lead to
prostitution. (Brown, 1979). A related indicator is that many adolescents that
enter prostitution have minimal financial employment possibilities. (Id.).
A general list of factors that lead to an underage female engaging in
prostitution include: recruitment, peer pressure, conditioning, a destructive
self-image, a need to survive, and a subcultural drift away from the mainstream.
(Campagna, 65-6). Others include: money, social excitement, imitation, anger
toward men, lack of parental attention, early sexual experience, drug addiction,
and being a runaway. (Brown, 1979).
One author divides motivators for prostitution into three needs. 1) Economic
needs of obtaining money for basic items such as food, housing, and shelter.
(Mathews, 1989). 2) Status needs: the desire to acquire esteem and prestige and
to accumulate those material items (cars, clothes, jewelry) that confer social
status upon an individual. (Id.). 3) Psychological need: the adolescent’s desire
for adventure, to meet new people, and/or to escape a problematic family or
other living situation. (Id.).
Methods of Engaging Females into
A primary method of procuring a juvenile for prostitution is through the use
of feigned friendship and love. (NCMEC, Female Juvenile, 1). The initial phase
of procurement is essentially an information-gathering mission in which the pimp
attempts to identify the youth’s vulnerabilities. (Id.). The pimp then uses the
information that the victim naively provides him to tailor his recruitment
strategy to meet what he perceives her needs to be. (Id.). He will then offer to
meets any unmet needs. (Id.). He will then fawn over her. (Id.). Pimps then use
a combination of flattery and charm, the promises of money, protection,
companionship, and intimacy to con a young woman into prostitution. (Id.).
Another description of this process focuses on the mental process of the
child. The deviant drift begins with the first phase, where a child adapts to a
negative self-image. (Cohen, 1987). The negative self-image is followed by
acculturation. The third stage is assimilation of the lifestyle and the
acceptance of the identity of a prostitute. (Id.).
The Enabler’s study showed that the process of prostitution was subtle: first
a weakening of ties with outside individuals, a need to develop ways to survive,
and an unrealistic view of prostitution all led to their involvement in this
life. (Enablers, 58).
Characteristics of Female
Female juvenile prostitutes come from all socioeconomic levels, nearly
all experienced disruption of family relationships, frequently at an early age.
(Enablers, 51). Many grew up in families in which one parent was absent, all had
left home at least once by the time that they were 14 years old, and nearly half
had lived in out of home placements prior to becoming involved in prostitution.
The average age at which they started prostitution was 14. (Enablers, 52).
Most, at the time of engaging in prostitution, were not school nor attending
regularly. (Id.). Nearly all stated that they were using drugs at the time they
started prostituting. (Id. at 53). In addition, they were not working. (Id.). At
the time they turned out most had low self-esteem and a poor self-image.
Other common factors are physical, sexual and psychological abuse in the
families of origin. (NCMEC, Female Juvenile, 13). Violence of all forms appears
to be an expected aspect of prostitution. (Id.). All of the women interviewed in
this case study had extensive health problems. (Id. at 14). In order to survive
the violent life of prostitution, juveniles develop an illusion of control over
aspects of the prostitution process. (Id. at 15).
Comparison of Female and Male
Both range in age from 12 to 18. (Weisberg, 153). Both come from all
socioeconomic backgrounds, but recent studies note the presence of a substantial
number of youth from middle class backgrounds. (Id.). A majority of both are
Caucasian. (Id.). Studies of both male and female juvenile prostitution reveal
that an overwhelming number come from homes broken by separation or divorce.
(Id. at 154). Both physical and sexual abuse characterize the childhood
histories of both. (Id. at 154). Both begin prostitution at an early age. (Id.
at 155). One difference between male and female juvenile prostitutes is that
male prostitutes are rarely introduced to prostitution by pimps and rarely work
for pimps. (Id. at 160). Much of the physical abuse of female prostitution come
from the pimp, thus eliminating a major source of violence for the males. (Id.
at 162). However assaultive behavior from the customers comes to both males and
females. (Id.). The use of drugs and alcohol appears to characterize young
prostitute’s lives. (Id. at 168).
Life Traits Common to
There are no consistent patterns or profiles that explain why minors are
drawn into prostitution. (Campagna, 83). However, the most frequent of all
experiences is the dysfunctional family. (Id.). Absent in these homes are
nurturing relationships, positive child rearing practices, and concern for the
well being or happiness of the children; physical and sexual mistreatment is
often prevalent. (Id.). Incest or other intra-familial sexual abuse is common in
the dysfunctional family. (Id.). Evidence indicates that families of juvenile
prostitutes are more sexually deviant and more sexually abusive than those found
in general populations. (Hotaling, 15). Adolescent homosexuality may put a male
at a higher risk of running away and getting involved in juvenile prostitution.
(Id.). The majority of girls who become child prostitutes appear to have
suffered childhood traumas associated with early sexual experiences. (Sereny,
27). This demonstrates that the violation of fragile child sexuality, if it is
combined with other family tensions or emotional deficiencies - whether in the
child or in the family - makes the probability of catastrophe in puberty
extremely high. (Id.).
Juvenile Prostitution is Increasing
From 1970 to 1983 the number of reported arrests of
underage prostitutes climbed by over 150%, although the number of juveniles aged
14 to 17 actually declined by nearly 10%. (NCMEC, Child Porn, 49). Studies show
that the rate of juvenile prostitution is rising. (Cohen, 1987).
- Prostitution is a natural expression of sexuality and a necessity for
inadequate sexual relationships. Actually juvenile prostitutes are often
appalled at and damaged by the acts demanded of them. Participation in
prostitution is often an threat to their physical well being.
- Prostitution is a victimless crime. Prostitution creates a setting
whereby crimes against men, women, and children become a commercial
enterprise. When a customer uses a juvenile prostitute for his or her own
sexual gratification, he or she is committing the crime of child sexual abuse.
- Juveniles freely choose prostitution. The fragile self-esteem and
limited resources lead some girls to believe that they have no other choice
but to enter the world of prostitution.
- Prostitution can be an exciting and glamorous life. In reality,
juvenile prostitutes suffer pain, humiliation, and degradation at the hands of
their pimps and customers. They are susceptible to sexually transmitted
diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
- The system of prostitution offers wealth to the participant. In truth,
part of the strategy for control over the prostitute is for pimps and madams
to keep them economically dependent upon the system of prostitution itself.
Any profit is often spent as rapidly as it is obtained, reinforcing the
efforts that go into prostitution.
- Prostitutes have power and control within the system. In reality
prostitutes are controlled both by their customers and by their pimp. The more
involved one becomes, the more difficult it is to leave.
- Prostitution is a deterrent to sexual crimes. There is no evidence
that prostitution deters sex crimes. Prostitutes can be victims of violent
acts including rape and murder. In addition, young prostitutes can be easy
victims for perpetrators
- Prostitutes are from specific socioeconomic groups. Teenage
prostitutes come from all socioeconomic groups.
- Juveniles make an educated decision to become prostitutes. Many case
histories support the fact that entry into prostitution may begin in the teens
or earlier. These histories reveal that the majority have been sexually or
physically abused. For most of these young women the only way to stop the
violence was to run away from home, which led to prostitution. This does not
make for an educated decision.
- There are laws to control prostitution. Historically there has been a
unequal application of laws prohibiting prostitution.
- There is a difference between being a high-class prostitute and a
streetwalker. In either situation the only people prostitutes have contact
with are pimps, tricks, and other prostitutes. (NCMEC, Female Juvenile
Prostitution , vii-ix.).
Information on Teenage
Prostitution is Difficult to Find
Teenage prostitution is an elusive and complex phenomenon. (Burgess,
127). Teenage prostitutes remain an unknown population for a variety of reasons.
(Id.). They have limited involvement in family or school settings and they are
not likely to admit their sexual activities. (Id.).
In attempting to describe juvenile prostitution in contemporary society, it
is critical to accept at the beginning how hopelessly incomplete the evidence is
or can ever be. (NCMEC, Child Porn, 51). The nature of prostitution, its
existence outside the law, outside legitimate business, and outside mainstream
society, makes it wholly unsuitable for ‘scientific’ study. (Id.). The number of
children involved in prostitution is hopelessly elusive. (Id.). In fact, no
reliable estimate exists or is even possible, given the absence of census data
on the subject, the inherent limitations of police information, and the
weaknesses of unsupported estimates by social service providers and popular
journalists who reach only a tiny fraction of juvenile prostitutes in highly
specific settings. (Id.).
Other researchers, including the federal government, concur with this
finding. Because prostitution has attracted the attention of many disciplines,
there is little coherence in the theoretical basis across the various studies.
(Brannigan, 1997). Studies on child prostitution are too few and difficult to
compare. (Joseph, 1995). Few researchers have specifically dealt with the area
of prostitution among adolescent girls. (Brown, 1979). Since the only visible
part of adolescent prostitution is on the street, it is difficult to determine
the total number of adolescents involved. (Mathews, 1989). The Unites States
Government Accounting Office, in a survey of all states and 22 of the largest
cities, was unable to obtain sufficient responses to hazard a guess. (Cohen,
How Underage Prostitutes
This section suggests the reason why identifying those involved in
prostitution is so difficult. Underage hustlers are able to avoid detection or
interception by the criminal justice system for several reasons. (Campagna, 78).
Foremost is the use of false identification papers for the ‘older-looking’
kiddie pro that can easily pass a casual street examination by police officers.
(Id.). A second reason is the arrest priorities of police organizations, which
do not focus on the easily released prostitutes. (Id.). Third is the realization
that neither the juvenile hustler nor customer is likely to file a complaint in
the event either person is victimized. (Id.). The ‘see no evil, hear no evil
syndrome’ represents a fourth reason. (Id.). A fifth reason that underage
hustlers escape detection is the absence of effective curfew, truancy, and
loitering laws or ordinances. (Id.). A final reason for the success of hustlers
in avoiding detection is their extraordinary mobility, which when combined with
their lack of accountability, makes them difficult to track. (Id.). When faced
with complaints about prostitution, exploiters merely shift the trade to new
locations. (Id.). The cumulative effect of all of these circumstances is that
many juvenile prostitutes, even those in plain view, become ‘invisible.’ (Id.).
Unless a concerted effort is made to identify and intercept minors engaged in
prostitution, they are often overlooked. (Id.).
International Numbers on
Worldwide the number of juvenile prostitutes is estimated to be in the tens
of millions, perhaps as high as 100 million. (Joseph, 1995). UNICEF put out a
background paper estimating the number of street children who are partially or
fully abandoned worldwide to be about 80 million. (Id.). In Brazil the numbers
range between 700,000 and a million Brazilian child prostitutes between the ages
of 9 and 17 years. (Id.). In the Philippines it is estimated that 20,000
children are involved in prostitution. (Id.). It is
estimated by Thai sources that there are over a million prostitutes in Thailand.
Other studies support findings of juvenile prostitutes totaling 400,000 in
India, and 80,000 in the Philippines. (Flowers, 70). In Tokyo, Japan 8% of the
schoolgirls are estimated to be prostitutes. (Id.). The chamber of commerce
recently reported that the number of child prostitutes under age 14 in Bogota,
Columbia has quintupled in seven years. (Id. at 177). In Moscow, over 1,000
youths are estimated to be in the sex-for-sale business. (Id.). In most cases
the actual number of child prostitutes tends to far exceed the estimates. (Id.).
UNICEF estimated that in Asia alone there are over one million minors enslaved
as prostitutes. (Id.). As the studies above suggest, the magnitude of the
problem of child prostitution worldwide is enormous. (Id.).
Prevalence of Juvenile Prostitution in the
In nearly every city and county across the country, juveniles can be found
selling their bodies for money, drugs, or a place to stay. (Cohen, 1987). It is
estimated that there are anywhere from 300,000 to 2.4 million juveniles in the
United States on the streets selling themselves. (Cohen, 1987, Flowers, 71, and
Joseph, 1995). Other, nonofficial but more accurate, sources estimate that as
many as half a million children under the age of 16 are involved in
prostitution, with that number doubling or tripling when including 16 and 17
year old prostitutes. (Flowers, 71). Among street prostitutes in the United
States, half or more are under age 21. (NCMEC, Child Porn, 57). Indeed some 40
percent may even be younger than 18 years old. (Id.).
Not only does prostitution exist across the United States, but its presence
is increasing. A recent survey of child prostitution in all 50 states concluded
that it had increased in 37% of the cities. (Flowers, 71). FBI statistics
further support: there has been a 183% increase in the number of females
arrested for juvenile prostitution, and a 245% increase for males. (Cohen,
1987). Two trends of adolescent prostitution are evident: the number of
adolescents involved in prostitution has increased in recent years and the entry
age into prostitution has decreased. (Mathews, 1989).
A portion of 8th Avenue in New York City is referred to as the "Minnesota
Strip" because so many of the teenage prostitutes are runaways from the Midwest.
(Cohen, 1987). In smaller cities and suburban or rural counties with no red
light district, juvenile prostitution is a more hidden phenomenon. (Id.). Kansas
is the state that New York City pimps love most, says the director of the Paul
and Lisa Program, an organization that works with children in prostitution in
New York City. (Child Sex Trade, 1996). Over a five year period, 33 of 262
children identified as working as prostitutes in New York said that they were
In Minnesota, in America’s heartland, far from gritty Los Angeles and New
York, the commercial sexual exploitation of youth in prostitution, escort
services, massage parlors, and strip joints is a growth business. (Child Sex
Trade, 1996). Minneapolis generally enjoys a reputation as an enlightened,
modern Midwest city. (Id.). Yet it has a thriving downtown sex industry, the
largest in the region, valued at about $50 million annually. (Id.). In just a
decade, the city’s sex district has grown from a handful of seedy strip bars to
at least six warehouse-sized strip clubs, one peep show, two saunas, and two
large adult book/video stores, all in a 12 block radius. (Id.). There is little
hard evidence of child prostitution in Minneapolis, yet advocates and former
prostitutes firmly stated that the presence is there and growing. (Id.).
"What is happening in America is so different from the way it used to be.
Pimps used to recruit in the city. But they discovered that it is much easier to
work in the burbs. The kids are naive, materialistic, vulnerable to the pimp’s
message. It is the strangest thing that I’ve ever seen." stated Frank Barnaba,
director of a child prostitute rescue team. (Child Sex Trade, 1996).
To keep the youths under control and stay one step ahead of the law, pimps
often move from city to city. (Child Sex Trade, 1996 and Cohen, 1987). The
unfamiliar surroundings can prevent a child from forming friendships or figuring
out whom to trust. (Child Sex Trade, 1996). Children are being systematically
moved by procurers along the "Pacific circuit" or prostitution "pipeline" that
runs from Vancouver to the US West Coast, then west to Honolulu. (Id.). "There
is a trend during the summer for pimps to work their young victims west from
Toronto and Calgary on to Vancouver, and then on south to the US, partly because
the weather is better," states Robert Murphy, a US Border Patrol special agent
in Blaine, Washington. (Id.). Besides moving children to the sex market, pimps
also travel far to recruit. (Id.). "One New York City pimp recently told of a
recruiting trip he planned to Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas,
Oklahoma, and California," says Frank Barnaba, who works with children in
prostitution in the New York City area. (Id.).
Money is a central aspect to the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
By one estimate, $40 million a day, $14 billion a year, is spent on prostitution
in the United States. (Hunter, 1994). The initial premise used by pimps and
customers to entice juveniles into this lifestyle is that prostitution brings
wealth. (NCMEC, Female Juvenile, 15). The average income of adolescent
prostitutes is difficult to determine. (Mathews, 1989). Subject to the weather
and a client’s generosity, a day’s earnings can range from $50.00 to several
hundred dollars. (Mathews, 1989 and Campagna, 57). Most earn less than $300.00
per week. (Mathews, 1989). That rate translates into several thousand dollars a
month and tens of thousands of untaxed dollars earned annually by a single
juvenile hustler. (Campagna, 57). However, if there is a fortune to be made
working on the streets, it has eluded these particular juveniles; nowhere will
you find a wealthy male or female prostitute. (Id. at 64).
Instead of prosperity, anyone involved in prostitution can expect to contract
some type of venereal disease, from gonorrhea to AIDS, in addition to range of
psychosomatic illnesses derived from the stressful nature of their activities.
(Campagna, 64.) The following is a graph of common hazards associated with
|Drug and alcohol abuse
||Drug and alcohol abuse
||Drug and alcohol abuse|
||Exploitive foster and group homes|
|Sexually transmitted diseases
||Sleep and eating disorders
||Placement in brothels|
||Adult criminals as companions|
||Misguided agency care|
|Suicide and self-mutilation
|Physical assault by exploiters
||Gender-disturbed sexual identity
The risk of catching AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases is not a
significant deterrent for these youth (or for clients). (Mathews, 1989).
Adolescent prostitutes tend to view disease as a risk that is part of the job.
(Id.). Safe sex is practiced generally, although adolescents new to the street
and others desperate for cash will forego the use of a condom if a client pays
or offers a premium. (Id.). However when forced to weigh the risks against the
rewards, many felt, at least for a short time, that the risks were worth it.
(Id.). For the youth on the street who is living hour by hour, struggling to
meet the daily needs of shelter, food, and clothing, information about a disease
that may kill them in ten years is irrelevant. (Cwayna, 72).
According to an AIDS specialist a large runaway shelter, an estimated 40% of
the runaway, homeless teens may carry the AIDS virus. (Flowers, 98). There is no
good data on the prevalence of HIV among the Minneapolis/St. Paul street youth
population. (Cwayna, 75). What we do know is that many of the HIV infected youth
under age twenty-one have been or are now homeless. (Cwayna, 75). In Los
Angeles, information gathered by youth services indicates that 80% of street
youth have been involved in prostitution, 40% have used injection drugs, and
depending on their ages, between 15 and 25% are HIV infected. (Cwayna, 72). In
San Francisco it is estimated that one in four street kids is HIV infected.
(Cwayna, 72). And there is no reason to believe that the infection rate among
street kids will not continue to escalate. (Cwayna, 72). About 20% of new cases
of AIDS are among young adults in their 20s. (Hull, 1994). Given the virus’s’
latency period, that means that most were infected in their teens. (Id.).
There are multiple health problems that are a direct result of engaging in
prostitution, and as a result, many adolescent street prostitutes are in
relatively poor health. (Mathews, 1989). For some it is the result of a poor
diet and stress while for others it is directly related to a sexually
transmitted disease. (Id.). Sexually transmitted disease constitutes the most
notorious risk to youth prostitutes because almost 30% of those involved take no
precautions against venereal disease. (NCMEC, Child Porn, 55). In addition,
child prostitutes face other health risks including infections, sterility,
permanent injuries from abuse, damage from drug abuse, and HIV/AIDS infection.
(Sponsler, 1993). Also, trauma from beatings and rape, complications from
persistent bladder infections and repeated exposure to venereal disease often
results in chronic pelvic inflammatory disease (P.I.D.) and infertility.
(Giobbe, 1994). Other, more serious risks, include: robbery, arrest, violence,
rape, murder, psychological injury. (Burgess, 140). These risks are well known
to the average prostitute and are identified as something that they dislike.
(Id.). Most of the prostitutes in one study said that they received medical care
at least every 2 to 3 months. (Enablers, 85). Almost half visited a doctor
Although STDS and HIV have created a public health crises, there is also the
psychological distress resulting from the violence that must also be considered.
(Hunter, 1994). A study of prostitutes resulted in a diagnosis of posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) for many individuals. PTSD can result when people have
experienced "extreme traumatic stressors involving direct personal experience of
an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury; or other
threat to one’s personal integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death,
injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning
about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury
experienced by a family member or other close associate. (Hunter, 1994).
Other studies indicate more psychological problems. Some women have fears
about the physical aspects of sexual intimacy. (Giobbe, 1994). Others report
that after years of sexual abuse and training themselves to dissociate their
minds from their bodies during the sex act, it becomes difficult to reintegrate.
(Id.). Others engage in sexual avoidance, and still other women remain celibate
for a period to heal from the abuse. (Id.). Long term effects include flashbacks
and nightmares. (Id.). Public hospitals report that 15% of all suicides are
prostitutes. (Id.). One survey of call girls revealed that 75% had attempted
In a study of 620 homeless youth, those involved in prostitution were
diagnosed as having multiple health problems, with an average of 4.1 diagnoses
per youth. (Yates, 1991). A diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory disease was more
than 14 times as likely for those involved in prostitution. (Id.). A diagnosis
of rape was nearly 3 times as likely to be given to a youth involved in
prostitution. (Id.). More than 74% of those involve din prostitution were also
diagnosed as abusing drugs or alcohol. (Id.). Compared to other homeless youth,
those involved in prostitution were twice as likely to have a serious mental
health problems. Also, they were twice as likely to be actively suicidal or to
have previously attempted suicide. (Id.). The high level of multiple drug use,
including intravenous drug use, and the greater likelihood of a gay or bisexual
male involvement, combined with an large number of different sex partners, place
the young people involved in prostitution at high risk for contracting and
transmitting HIV. (Id.).
The media plays a powerful role in the commercial sexual exploitation
of children. The American culture rewards youthful appearance, seductive
behavior, and sexual attractiveness. (Mathews, 1989). As a result, the images in
media usually portray the joys and rewards of sex, rarely the problems and
responsibilities. (Id.). In doing this, the media acts as an advertising agency
for prostitution. (Id.). In light of the predominance of such images, it is not
unreasonable to conclude that impressionable and naive adolescents would accept
them at face value and wish to imitate the behaviors and lifestyles portrayed.
(Id.). It is clear that there is a general lack of awareness on the part of the
public, the police, and many social service providers of the depth and
complexity of the phenomenon of adolescent prostitution. (Id.). Because of this
lack of understanding, mainstream media sexualizes stereotypes of hypersexuality
and unconditional sexual availability. (Giobbe, 1994).
Juveniles that are runaways have an increased chance of becoming involved
in prostitution. Between 11 and 66 percent of runaways become involved in
prostitution; the rate is somewhat higher for females than males. (Hotaling, 1,
Yates, 1991 and Flowers, 89). An urgent need exists for a large-scale study of
male and female runaways to determine how many become sexually exploited, in
what ways, who is at the highest risk of exploitation, and what are the short
and long-term effects on personality and social functioning. (Hotaling, 1).
It is estimated that anywhere from several hundred thousand to over 2 million
children run away from or are thrown out of their homes each year in the United
States. (Flowers, 89, Sereny, xii, and Cohen, 1987). Many youths do not run far
to get into prostitution, many end up in the same state. (Cohen, 1987). In
studying the reasons for running away from home, rural children face more
difficult circumstances than urban children in most areas. (Burgess, 10).
Children are running away due to physical abuse, violence due to alcoholism
in the home, or other bad family situations. (Cohen, 1987).
Runaways often end up living on the streets, and encountering many more
problems. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta reports that homeless youth
appear to be a new wave of the HIV epidemic. (Cwayna, 71). Even without AIDS,
being young and homeless in a US city is dangerous. (Id.). Emergency room
statistics indicate that trauma amongst homeless youth is common: gunshot
wounds, stabbings, and beatings are facts of life on the street. (Id.). Because
they are available and seeking friendship and shelter, they are easy targets of
the pornography dealers and those who seek children for prostitution. (O’Brien,
22). There are people preying on these kids from the minute that they arrive at
the Greyhound station and the train stations. (Hull, 1994).
Many of the hardships facing most young prostitutes stem from their
dependency on drugs. (NCMEC, Child Porn, 54). The overwhelming majority of
juvenile prostitutes admit to using drugs as part of their lifestyle, and an
alarming number admit to heavy use or even addiction. (Id.). Numerous studies
find that male prostitutes are significantly involved in drug use. (Weisberg,
The most tangible consequences of involvement in juvenile prostitution is the
extremely high probability of suffering violent assault. (NCMEC, Child Porn,
54). The vast majority of young female prostitutes will be beaten by their pimps
and abused by their customers, often repeatedly. (Id.). Young male hustlers are
less vulnerable, but it still remains a substantial risk. (Id.). The risk of
violence for both sexes is part of the game. (Mathews, 1989).
Women are tied-up, gagged, whipped, and paddled, engaged in acts involving
urination and defecation, are penetrated by objects and animals, gang raped, and
forced to participate in humiliating circus-like sex shows for the voyeuristic
pleasure of one or more men. (Giobbe, 1994). Prostituted women have revealed a
pattern of responses that is shockingly similar to those expressed by women who
have been sexually abused or raped by their husbands. (Id.). Most women reported
feelings of degradation, defilement, and dirtiness, sometimes for years after
leaving prostitution. (Id.).
In a study of prostitution survivors the following crimes were documented:
78% were victims of rape, 84% were victims of aggravated assault, 49% were the
victims of kidnapping, 53% were victims of sexual abuse through torture, 27%
were mutilated as a result of the torture, and 10 women disappeared or were
murdered over a 14 month period. (Hunter, 1994). Murder is a fact of life for
all prostituted women. (Id.). The largest unsolved serial murder case in the
history of the United States is the green River murders, where 49 prostituted
women were found dead between 1982 and 1984, and hundreds of women are still
missing. (Id.). In October 1992 an international relief agency reported that
100,000 young women and girls from around the world are unaccounted for.
In a study of 136 prostitutes, 82% of the respondents reported having been
physically assaulted since entering prostitution, 55% had been assaulted by
customers, 88% had been physically threatened while in prostitution, 68%
reported rape in prostitution, and 83% had been physically threatened with a
weapon. (Farley, 1988).
Pimps play a vital role in the sexual exploitation of children. There are two
types of pimps. In the first version, the pimp is a villain who lives off the
victim, beats them, and makes false promises to keep them. (Cohen, 1987). In the
second version, the relationship between the pimp and the victim is seen more as
a bargained for exchange, where he protects them from police and perverts.
(Id.). In reality, pimps typically treat their women as their personal
possessions and beat them to a pulp of they think or behave otherwise. (Russell,
157). A power relationship in which prostitutes are subject to domination,
violence, and torture by their pimps, as well as theft of their earnings, would
be a more apt description. (Id.).
The vast majority of juveniles used in prostitution are initially recruited
by a pimp or subsequently fall under the control of a pimp. (Burgess, 117). Some
data may be misleading due to the fact that many individuals do not recognize
their present partner as a pimp, in spite of clear evidence to the contrary.
(Id.). The number of adolescents working for a pimp ranges from 30% to 84%.
(Mathews, 1989 and Hunter, 1994). A common misperception is that all pimps are
male. (Mathews, 1989). However, pimps are not the only or major factor affecting
an adolescent’s decision to enter prostitution. (Id.). Many young people start
working the streets on their own or with the help of a friend or street peers.
Violence rules much of the relationship between a pimp and the individual
involved in prostitution. Pimps usually impose quotas of earnings on their
girls, give them little money, beat them if they fail to meet their quotas, and
often have a ‘stable’ of girls who work for them. (Cohen, 1987). Pimps most
frequently beat them for not making enough money, being disrespectful to the
pimp, violating some rules, or leaving, or threatening to leave. (Enablers,
There is a definite and identifiable market for the sexual services of
adolescents. (Mathews, 1989). Conservatively it is estimated that a total of 1.5
million men use prostituted women each week. (Hunter, 1994). Some studies
suggest that the number of American men who use prostituted women is as high as
69% and 84%. (Hunter, 1994).
The customers are generally male, adult, usually but not always professional,
often fathers, often husbands, and in no short supply. (Mathews, 1989).
Anyone who promotes, perpetuates, or knowingly derives some form of benefit
from the traffic in child sex can be considered an exploiter. (Campagna, 7).
These exploiters include pimps, pornographers, booking agents, hard-core
molesters, sex ring participants or organizers, publisher and printers of child
sex newsletters or magazines, and madams and brothel owners who employ juvenile
prostitutes. (Id.). Any adult willing to take sexual advantage of a child is an
eligible candidate for the role of exploiter. (Id. at 8).
Sex Offender Traits
- Physically, sex offenders come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and
nationalities, and for the most part they fit the ‘boy/girl next door’ or
‘good neighbor’ profile.
- In terms of education, their profiles span the gamut: ranging from
those who never completed grammar school to those with Ph.D’s.
- In terms of employment, their profiles range from simple laborers
to work supervisors, from professionals of every category individuals who
known and successfully operate their own businesses.
- In terms of economic class, the range spans from indigent to very
- As regards to social adjustment, they range from social misfits to
social giants who are often perceived as the pillars of the community.
- As regards religion, all denominations are represented, including
clergy from most of the denominations.
- As to marital status, it appears to have no bearing on the
problem. Both single and married females and males sexually abuse.
Offenders who organized sex rings to exploit children sexually were most
often middle class and middle aged. (Burgess, 79). Their primary access routes
to the children were occupation, living situation, and other children. (Burgess,
79). While many offenders did not have previous offenses, a large number did
have previous sexual offenses. (Burgess, 79). Because victims of child
pornography and sex rings usually have been carefully seduced and often do not
realize that they are victims, they repeatedly and voluntarily return to the
offender. (OJJDP, Understanding Sexual Exploitation, 7).
Once involved in prostitution it is almost impossible to leave it. Once an
individual enter prostitution a process begins which leads to entrenchment in
the life. (Mathews, 1989). Many career paths are closed or remain unexplored as
a result of an adolescent’s decision to work in prostitution. (Id.). The status
needs of the individual actually encourage them to continue in street
soliciting. (Id.). Also, the lifestyle of prostitution is fast-paces and
psychologically addictive. (Id.). Factors that increase the lengths of time
spent in prostitution are : involvement with a pimp, the use of drugs, and the
unavailability or unwillingness to find other types of work. (Id.).
Skills that adolescents acquire while on the street are not attractive to
employers in the straight job market. (Id.). The stigma related to a
prostitution related charge only makes it more difficult for an adolescent to
find straight employment. (Id.). Once adolescents get the street smarts
necessary to work successfully in prostitution, they often become complacent.
(Id.). Young people working in prostitution acquire new habits, lifestyles, and
value orientations that are in some ways different from the straight world
around them. (Id.).
Exiting from prostitution in early years is fraught with dangers from within
the system and rejection and abandonment from without. (NCMEC, Female Juvenile,
16). Generally, adolescent prostitutes see their involvement in street
soliciting as being temporary, though few are able to articulate a plan for
leaving it. (Mathews, 1989).
A consensus on why leaving prostitution is difficult: the life brings some
luxury and status, losing family support limits career paths, drug usage
increases for some adolescents, the addictive lifestyle makes it difficult to
leave, prostitution is an option for adolescents with few skills, street
lifestyle and new values entice and trap adolescents, pimps are not the major
influence or always violent, peers are a strong influence, and acceptance by the
street makes leaving difficult. (Mathews, 1989).
A list on why individuals leave prostitution: illness, pregnancy, finding
another job, a relationship where the loved one does not approve of
prostitution, finding successful role models, fear of violence, the length of
time working on the street (the shorter the time, the easier it is to leave),
being able to obtain welfare, obtaining stable housing, getting into a training
program, age, self, disillusion with the street lifestyle, finding a significant
other to assist in making a life on the outside, getting away from a pimp.
A section on sexual abuse of children is vital to the discussion of
commercial sexual exploitation for several reasons. Primarily, abuse of any form
makes the child vulnerable to anyone interested in exploiting them. In addition,
sexual abuse is often a precursor to commercial sexual exploitation.
Definition of Sexual Abuse
A common definition of sexual abuse is the forced, tricked, or coerced sexual
behavior between a younger person and an older person. (Burgess, 335). The
element of force is the key dynamic. (Id. at 336). The elements of sexual abuse
include manipulation of the child, coercion, force, threats, and virtually every
kind of sexual behavior. (Id. at 337). The basic term sexual abuse of children
comprises three elements: 1) a significantly older individual who 2) engages in
sexual activity with someone 3) who is legally a child. (NCMEC, Child Sex Rings,
Estimates of Abused
The United States Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect concluded that
child abuse and neglect in the United States now represents a national
emergency. (Burgess, 14). Each year hundreds of thousands of children are being
starved and abandoned, burned and severely beaten, raped and sodomized, berated
and belittled. (Id. at 15). Estimates of yearly rates of child sexual abuse
cases range from 50,000 to over 1 million. (NCMEC, Children Traumatized, 2). In
a review of nineteen studies on the prevalence of child sexual abuse, rates
varied from 6% to 62% of females and from 3% to 31% for males. (Id.). Both
researchers and clinicians in the child abuse field agree that the majority of
child sexual abuse cases still remain undetected. (Id.). The average rates of
child sexual abuse from eight random community surveys indicated that about 70%
of the victims were girls and 30% were boys. (Id. at 4). In a study of 148 child
molesters, 51% selected only girls as victims, 28% selected only boys, and 21%
selected both boys and girls as victims. (Id.). However, boys are less likely to
report sexual abuse than girls. (Id.).
Both sexual and physical abuse are reported by large percentages of youth on
the streets. (Cwayna, 21). In a 1991 survey conducted by the Wilder Foundation
of eighty-one homeless youths in Minnesota, 51% of the girls and 12% of the boys
reported having been sexually abused by an adult. (Id.). Physical abuse was more
commonly reported, with 62% of girls and 34% of boys reporting such abuse at the
hands of an adult. (Id.). Thirty percent of the respondents reported both sexual
and physical abuse. (Id.). In a report prepared for the US Senate on the youth
served under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act in 1989, 26% of homeless youth
and 29% of runaways reported physical or sexual abuse. (Id.). It is well
documented that victims of abuse, whether sexual or not, suffer from low
self-esteem and depression and are more likely to be violent or abusive towards
Hennepin County reported in 1979 that as many boys as girls in the lower
elementary school age levels told of having experienced some form of sexual
abuse. (O’Brien, 22). Data from many parts of the country point to the
conclusion that, in younger children, as many boys as girls are vulnerable to
sexual abuse and exploitation but that boys are more reluctant to report such
incidents to adults. (Id. at 23). Recent research suggests that at least one in
every four or five women experiences some form of sexual abuse before 18 years
of age. (Gillman, 1989). Increased reporting of male victimization and new
interview-based studies with males suggest that sexual abuse of boys may be much
more widespread than previously believed. (Id.). In addition, one researcher
suggests that perhaps 25% of all victims are abused before the age of seven.
Abuse is Linked to
The relationship between child prostitution and child sexual abuse has been
well established. (Flowers, 106). In a study of 55 survivors of prostitution 85%
report being victims of incest as children, 90% were physically abused, and 98%
were emotionally abused. (Hunter, 1994). Sexually abuse children are more likely
to run away, and sexually abuse runaways are more likely to enter prostitution.
(Hotaling, 14). The current evidence suggests that a history of sexual abuse
makes the subsequent sexual exploitation of runaways more likely. (Id.).
The vast majority of children who become involved in prostitution were
victimized earlier in their lives. (Cohen, 1987 and Mathews, 1989). In an
analysis of many studies the authors found that childhood trauma may be only one
of several predictors of prostitution, and prostitution may be only one of
several delinquent outcomes. (Brannigan, 1997). Other studies support these
findings. The evidence of a link between early sexual abuse and prostitution is
at best mixed. (Seng, 1989). It appears that the link between sexual abuse and
adolescent prostitution is not direct, but requires runaway behavior as an
intervening variable. (Id.).
Juvenile prostitution is technically a form of child sexual abuse. (Cohen,
1987) Most people do not identify prostitution as a form of child sexual abuse,
because sexually exploited children generally evoke images of young helpless
children molested by ‘sick’ adults. (Id.).
Abuse can affect boys and girls differently. Boys often focused on
proving their manhood, sometimes become sexually assaultive persons, and are
often referred for sexual dysfuctions (e.g. impotence and premature
ejaculation). (Prendergast, 71). Many also repeat their abuse behavior on a same
age child. (Id.). Girls can develop problems in their adult sex life, see sex as
dirty or disgusting, may become an abusive parent without knowing why. (Id.).
Girls may tend to prostitute, become promiscuous, tend to marry aggressive
battering husbands, tends to lose all goal motivation. (Id.).
Many of the circumstances surrounding the sexual abuse of these children are
also identified risk factors for AIDS. (Burgess, 204). These factors include:
promiscuous sexual activity with multiple partners, sexual contact which is
physically traumatic, intercourse without barrier protection, genital lesions,
and the use of illicit drugs. (Id.).
Studies of sexually exploited children indicate a variety of long-term
emotional, behavioral, social and sexual problems. (NCMEC, Children Traumatized,
2). Symptoms include physical problems of headaches, stomachaches, and sleeping
and eating disorders; psychological reactions of fear and anxiety, depression,
mood changes, guilt, and shame; social problems of school truancy, declining
grades, and fighting; and sexual problems, such as heightened sexual activity,
compulsive masturbation, exhibitionism, and preoccupation with sex and nudity.
(Id. at 4). Running away from home, adolescent prostitution, suicide attempts,
substance abuse, gender identity confusion, sexual dysfunction, and socially
deviant behaviors have also been identified as possible consequences of
untreated childhood sexual abuse. (Id.). A study of forty-one incarcerated
serial rapists revealed that 56 percent had experienced sexual abuse as
Other studies report that consequences of childhood sexual abuse have
included acting out behaviors: running away, truancy, conduct disorder,
delinquency, aggressiveness, promiscuity and inappropriate sexual behavior.
(Widom, 1994). An association between childhood sexual abuse and deviant
criminal behavior has also been reported in samples of prostitutes. (Id.). For
research has as well as clinicians, there is fairly widespread acceptance of
some association between child sexual abuse and later delinquent and criminal
consequences. (Id.). However, the empirical evidence of this is sparse. (Id.).
Childhood victims of sexual abuse are at an increased risk of arrests for some
sex crime, childhood physical abuse victims are at particular increased risk of
arrest for prostitution. (Id.).
This literature review illustrates two main points. First, the commercial
sexual exploitation of children is a problem on a global, national, and local
level. First hand experiences and various studies show that stripping,
pornography, and prostitution affect thousands of children each day. Secondly,
in spite of this basic knowledge, there are very few studies that state the
actual number of children involved or affected by sexual exploitation. In fact,
this may be an impossible task.
What is clear from this research is that there are specific ways that
individuals exploit children. It is possible to make a significant difference in
the lives children in the Midwest and throughout the world by using this
information to prevent initiation into exploitive lifestyles.
In addition, this analysis provides a baseline of information on the various
forms of exploitation. This will allow other researchers to make comparisons and
observe trends in the future. Finally, as detailed in previous sections, there
are several areas of research that require further development. For example, a
current study examining any of the three examples of child exploitation is
needed to determine the depth of child exploitation in the Midwest. In addition
there is a lack of research that specifically details ways in which child
exploitation can be prevented.
Jesus said to his disciples, "Let the little children come to me, and do not
hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the
truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will
never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and
blessed them. Mark 10:14-16.
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