Prostitution/ Teenage Prostitution term paper 7814

Prostitution term papers
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Prostitution is an activity as old as humanity, and for many it is a subject that invokes feelings of disgust, revulsion, and pure evil. Especially, when our young people become involved in such a life style. This report will analyze the types of children who are susceptible, and resort to prostitution. How one starts out in prostitution, the lifestyles that they lead, the social-psychological effects, and treatment.

Every year approximately 200,000 to 400,000 teenagers ( boys and girls ) become occupational prostitutes (Johnson 14 ). Other estimates are equally varied. According to Patricia Hersch,125,000 to 200,000 juveniles turn to prostitution each year. These drastic differences illustrate just how difficult the problem of counting teenage prostitutes are, and how little is actually known about them. In many cities where violence is wide spread, and murders are committed every day, catching prostitutes or their customers is a low priority for police, even where there are strict laws prohibiting the act. Experts do agree that the problem is growing, especially in major cities ( Johnson 14-15 ).

In their book, S. Mitchell and L. Smith (5), claim that ninety-five percent of young prostitutes are victims of violent physical abuse. Eighty-five percent are victims of incest. Ninety percent are victims of sexual abuse by someone outside the immediate family, and only two percent have families with two natural parents. These statistics may not come to our surprise when we consider the type of youth that are susceptible to a life of prostitution.

Children who are susceptible in becoming teenage prostitutes were born when their parents lived together. Before long, and most often before they reach the age of five, well over seventy percent of all children who become prostitutes watched their families destroyed by separation, divorce, or death of one of their parents. Once the family's stability is shattered, life for young children become even more unstable. The person left to care for them is often unwilling or incapable of doing so. The remaining parent may consistently leave them to care for themselves because of work, and other responsibilities, or neglect them through indifference; he or she may also have problems with alcohol or drugs. Whatever the reason these children grow up lacking consistent care and attention. These parental attitudes ultimately undermine any chance for the parent and child to develop a healthy relationship. The social control theory of delinquency (Herschi 1969:16-23 ) predicts that delinquency results when a child's bonds with conventional society are weak to non-existent. Those bonds include sensitivity to the opinions of others, a commitment of one's time and energy to conventional activities, and belief in the moral validity of society's norms. One way of using this theory in explaining juvenile prostitution is to view negative self-image, and abusive early sexual experiences contributing to the weakness of a child's bonds with society ( Bracey 51-53).

Perhaps the saddest aspect of their childhood, however, is not the fact that most child prostitutes come from broken homes or even that their parents are inadequate or irresponsible. Divorce and death are always traumatic, but children have always been known for their ability to cope with life's difficulties. But when parents are abusive as well, a child's chances for success become more and more limited.

Sometimes the abuse is physical. For example, Joan J. Johnson speaks of the abuse of a two-year old girl by her mother, " Rebecca had soiled her underwear. As punishment, her mother and her mother's boyfriend heated cooking oil, held Rebecca down, and poured it on her legs. Her legs were so badly burned that they became infected, yet Rebecca's mother did not take her to the hospital until more than one week later, when the smell from gangrene, the often fatal consequence of untreated infections, became intolerable. Fortunately, doctors were able to save Rebecca's legs." Research has found that sixty-six to seventy-five of every one hundred female prostitutes endured beatings from their fathers, stepfathers, or other members of their households. It is also shown that from thirty-four to forty-seven of every one hundred male prostitutes were physically abused ( 48-50 ).

Many times, the abuse that parents and other members on the family inflict may be emotional. Cruel words are a much more subtle form of abuse, and when they are constant, children are likely to lack the opportunity to develop self-esteem. Put-downs such as, saying one is stupid, a failure, or unwanted, lead those children to believe that they are just that. Therefore, once children are labeled they begin to act accordingly, getting into trouble and failing at school as if to make the labels come true ( Johnson 51 ). Sexual abuse can also contribute to a child resorting to prostitution as a way of life. Childhood sexual abuse is so prevalent among teenage prostitutes many experts have drawn the conclusion that it may actually drive young people into prostitution. Sexual abuse is usually experienced repeatedly and at an early age. According to sociologist Lois Lee, " Most of the girls and boys who are on the streets have run away because of sexual abuse. " Two factors surprisingly do not seem to play a large role in juvenile prostitution. No relationship seems to exist between prostitution and promiscuity. Also, the use of drugs seem to have little effect on juvenile prostitution ( Bracey 52 ). Leaving the home can be the most significant turning point for a child that will lead a life of prostitution. Sometimes the run is unplanned, and made at the spur of the moment, often after an argument with someone in the family. Because they are not really prepared to remain on the run, many of these teens return home after several days or weeks. Other juveniles plan their run. These teens grab whatever money they have saved or they may steal money from a parent's wallet or purse. They gather their clothes and any other belongings that they can physically carry with them. The teenagers who plan their runs are more likely to leave home permanently. Statistics show that the longer teenagers can remain on the run the less likely they are to return ( Johnson 59-60 ).

Of the million or more teenagers that hit the streets each year, between one-third and one-half are actually kids who were pushed out by their parents. Often times throwaways are forced out because the parent can no longer cope with their own marital, financial, or psychological problems. Teenagers seldom are thrown out of their homes for a single incident, although frequently the discovery of a youths homosexuality creates such a great conflict that it might be called a single factor ( Johnson 61 ). Whether they are runaways or throwaways, these young people are all homeless and without money when they arrive in the cities. Unlike adults, homeless teens have little help available to them. Because teenagers are minors they are not eligible for welfare, and they are barred from most adult shelters for their own protection. Youth shelters do exist, but there are fewer of them, they are overcrowded, and the length of time youth can stay is limited. It is only a matter of time before the cruel and harsh ways of street life takes it toll, resulting in yielding to more desperate measures to survive ( West 52-54 ). " Once you're on the streets, it gets very bizarre--people play hard games on you, " one teenage girl told a Chicago Tribune reporter ( Bracey 67 ). The streets are alive with adults and older youths, many of them too willing to exploit frightened, lonely teenagers. Pimps are on the lookout to recruit new young girls. Also, "Johns" or customers cruise the streets looking for young boys and girls that they can entice with the offer of money or drugs. Pornographers hunt for new "stars" for their X-rated pictures. To make things worse, kidnappers, rapists, and murders are looking for victims as well. New street teenagers are psychologically ready to be victimized because of their unstable backgrounds, also their youth, inexperience, and ignorance makes them vulnerable (Johnson 67-72 ).

Exchanging sex for money or drugs and becoming a full time prostitute are two different things. But, some begin to turn "tricks" full-time within weeks of their arrival into the cities ( Mitchell, Smith 27 ). Next, the analization of the circumstances and events that occur leading to involvement of prostitution. Homeless boys have the same problems as homeless girls, but they may be more able to defend themselves. Some young boys hold out for a while by committing petty thefts. But, sooner or later they will complain to friends that they are broke, and someone will suggest that they turn a few tricks. Most often male teenagers are encouraged to sell themselves by friends, usually other boys that are already making money on the streets ( West 77-80 ). The single most difference between male and female prostitutes is the pimp. A pimp is a person who solicits clients for a prostitute. The pimps techniques are so predictable it seems impossible that a young girl would fall prey to his schemes. However, the most typical ploy by a pimp to lure a prospect into his control is to first, make his initial by approaching her with some comment. If she ignores him, he may pass her by. But if the young girl gives herself away with a reply or body language that shows her responsiveness it may not be long until the two are getting to know one another. Once they have become friends, the pimp will listen intently to the girl's problems, sympathizing and agonizing over the trials and tribulations of her life at home. The pimp is on her side, and for once for the first time in her life the girl will believe she has found a true friend. This friendship will be confirmed when he offers to give her some money or a place to stay until she can support herself ( Johnson 80 ). Rarely at this stage will the pimp make reference for the girl to go to work for him. He wants her to trust him completely and to believe that he is one of those rare individuals who is not looking to gain anything other than friendship from her. Over the next several days the pimp will wine and dine his new recruit, often giving her gifts to show his devotion. He knows the vulnerabilities of girls in that particular situation and he takes advantage of it to gain control of them. The pimps great gift is love, not true love but a craftily dramatized illusion of love. This feeling of love and worth can be preyed upon because these are feelings every human being must experience in order to exist. Often times, the pimp is the first person that these young girls share these feelings with. Therefore, they become both financially and emotionally dependent upon the pimp ( 81-83 ).

Soon the pressure tactic for the girls to begin selling their bodies for money surfaces. The pimp will confront the new recruit with his scheme that he needs some quick money or he will be in danger. And to show her loyalty he asks her to help him. Ultimately, because of her fear that the pimp will withdraw affection and attention because she has disappointed or hurt him, she does as he asks.

Some social-psychological effects of prostitution are an inability to trust people, and severe depression. Donald West has interviewed over a thousand prostates and many say that the work has advantages. Money and social life are two of the strongest incentives of being a prostitute. Yet over half of them had very negative attitudes about what they do. Some say it damaged their health. Many feel shame and guilt about selling their bodies for money ( 129 ). There are wide range of treatment programs that are offered to street kids who have a desire to change their lives for the better. Dorothy Bracey states that " separation of the facts and feelings is a kind of necessary growth. " A successful treatment program must maintain a program that forms individuality among the youth. Negative feelings must be exposed and expressed honestly. Also, this needs to be resolved in the context of a positive relationship with staff and peers. Guilt and shame must be reduced by increasing the power of self-respect and self-love ( Mitchell-Smith 41-42 ).

While much has yet to be learned about teenage prostitutes, there is little debate that juvenile prostitution in the U.S. is a serious problem. If the appropriate action is not taken to prevent spreading of teenage prostitution, society must expect to face even more serious consequences as these young people move into adulthood.


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