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Most minors lured into underage sex trafficking by their peers

Lawrence Taylor was given six years' probation for an encounter with Christina Fierro, an underage prostitute.
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The stereotypical portrayal of pimps luring underage girls into prostitution and forcing girls to be prostitutes by intimidation or addicting the girls to drugs is not representative of reality. This is the conclusion drawn from three separate studies of underage prostitution and sex workers in News York City and Atlantic City, New Jersey. The research was published in the April 15, 2014, edition of the journal The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

The study is based on interviews with pimps, underage prostitutes, and customers of the underage prostitutes. The results of the interviews indicate that minors were initiated into the sex trade by girls of their age 47 percent of the time. Customers accounted for 23 percent of girls becoming underage prostitutes. Pimps accounted for 8.1 percent of the girls that became involved in the sex trade.

The majority of the girls involved in the sex trade (47 percent) claimed to have never known a pimp. The vast majority (87 percent) of girls involved in the underage sex trade wished to leave prostitution. The reasons the girls gave for becoming involved in prostitution were homelessness, need for income, the lack of jobs, lack of job skills, and lack of education. The majority (61 percent) of girls involved in the sex trade described themselves as homeless.

The researchers conclude that underage prostitution is more complex than the sexual naiveté of law enforcement, government, or those attempting to prevent underage prostitution can accept. The pimp forcing an underage girl into prostitution is a convenient but unrealistic scenario that is propagated by the media according to the researchers. The realities of underage prostitution need more intuitive and realistically thoughtful solutions the researchers claim. One can scarcely expect a religion dominated approach to be capable of producing a proactive solution to the problems of underage prostitution when blaming a pimp is such an easy choice.