USA: Study Reveals Juveniles Involved in Prostitution Treated as Criminals
Monday, June 7, 2010 1:30 PM

A two-phase study by the University of New Hampshire (Conceptualizing Juvenile Prostitution as Child Maltreatment: Findings from the National Juvenile Prostitution Study) released in February 2010 reveals that many juveniles involved in prostitution are viewed by law enforcement agencies as criminals, rather than as victims.
Researchers estimate there were 1,450 arrests or detentions of juveniles on prostitution-related charges in 2005 (a number comparable to FBI data; see page 125 of the 2006 FBI Uniform Crime Report), but that if these rates were calculated based on information from Los Angeles, which is highly active in investigating such cases, the national rate would be closer to 14,000.
Overall, the authors found that law enforcement agencies have not prioritized addressing this issue. Often, needed support systems are unavailable to juveniles involved in prostitution, leading to the youths’ continued victimization and involvement in prostitution.
In light of the study results, the researchers identified four next steps: (1) bystander mobilization (educating social workers, teachers, young people, family members, and victim service professionals); (2) prevention education (deglamourizing prostitution by educating youth about the realities of prostitution); (3) development of safe houses and residence and victim resources (addressing the vulnerability of youth without access to stable or safe housing); and (4) use of specialist interviewers and investigators (enabling law enforcement to better communicate with a population that is often alienated and evasive).