Youth Involvement in Prostitution: A Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography

Appendix A: Annotated Bibliography (continued)

Bartek, S.,; Krebs, D., & Taylor, M. (1993). Coping, defending, and the relations between moral judgement and moral behaviour in prostitutes and other female juvenile delinquents. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 66-73.

Previous studies examining the relationship between immoral behaviour and obtaining low scores on the Moral Judgement Interview are flawed on both “descriptive and explanatory levels.” This study compares the moral competence of female delinquents (prostitutes and delinquent non-prostitutes) with female non-delinquents of the same age. The authors hypothesize the delinquent group would score lower on a series of moral judgement indicators. The study includes 20 juvenile delinquents involved in prostitution, 20 juvenile delinquents who denied involvement in prostitution, and 20 control subjects from the same age group. Structured interviews included Colby and Kohlberg’s (1987) study on moral dilemma about prostitution (Moral Judgement Interview, MJI) and Joffe and Naditch’s (1977) coping and defending test. In comparison to the control group, delinquents illustrated lower maturity and coping, and higher defensiveness scores. Delinquents characterized as “low-coping” made “significantly lower level moral judgements on the prostitution dilemma than on the less personally relevant MJI dilemmas.” No between-group differences were found with respect to respondents judgements on the MJI, however prostitutes made “weaker judgements against prostitution.” The results highlight the relationship between moral reasoning and moral acts.

Basow, S., & Campanile, F. (1990). Attitudes toward prostitution as a function of attitudes toward feminism in college students: An exploratory study. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 14 (1), 135-141.

A historical review of feminist thought concerning prostitution reveals two competing alternatives to prohibition: decriminalization and legalization. The authors report findings from a study that explored the relationship between feminist attitudes and views on prostitution. Eighty-nine undergraduates (42 male and 47 female) responded to the “Attitudes Toward Feminism Scale” and an “Attitudes Toward Prostitution Scale.” The authors hypothesized that “college students who were profeminist would be less acceptant of prostitution myths and more open to decriminalization and legalization of prostitution than would college students who were more traditional in their attitudes toward feminism.” Profeminists were more likely to view prostitution as “exploitation and subordination of women, less likely to believe that women become prostitutes out of economic necessity, and less likely to approve of decriminalization and legalization of prostitution”. Gender differences were also detected (women were more likely than men were to support legalization and decriminalization). Women were more likely than men to view prostitution as a form of subordination and exploitation of women. Based on the results, the authors suggest that the pubic will view liberalizing prostitution as sexual permissiveness. They recommend that the public be educated about decriminalization and legalization, and the “real” nature of prostitution and “the social structures that maintain it.”

Belk, R. W., Ostergaard, P., & Groves, R. (1998). Sexual consumption in the time of AIDS: A study of prostitute patronage in Thailand. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 17(2), 197-210.

The authors summarize a study “of sexual consumption and AIDS in the context of prostitution in Thailand.” Using qualitative fieldwork, researchers interviewed 25 Chiang Mai University students, eight foreign male tourists, and several service providers. The goal of the study was to “…create a culturally informed understanding of the problem of the spread of AIDS through prostitution in Thailand.” The authors find that beliefs and attitudes toward sexuality and prostitute patronage result in higher risk-taking behaviours among Thai citizens (men are traditionally expected to have more than one woman to satisfy their needs, whereas women are expected to remain pure until marriage). This double standard helps condone the use of prostitutes by both single and married men, thereby contributing to the spread of AIDS. Despite increased knowledge of AIDS (especially among university students) sexual practices appear unaffected in Thailand – men continue to engage in unsafe sex. There has been an increased demand for child prostitutes because of the perception that they are not infected with the disease. “If ‘illogical’ risk-taking continues to occur among informed college students, it is even more likely to occur among the less informed majority of the Thai population.” The authors argue for a more comprehensive understanding of the culture, and a “multifaceted approach of grounded research, implementation, and follow-up.”

Bell, H. & Todd, C. (1998). Juvenile prostitution in a midsize city. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 27 (3/4), 93-105.

This article examines youth prostitution in a midsize city (Austin, Texas) to determine the number of youth involved in prostitution and to compare their profiles with those identified in previous research. The authors used self-administered questionnaires with 242 at-risk juveniles; a youth was considered at-risk if they used one of three youth service agencies. The survey covered a wide range of topics: demographics, sexual history, family experiences, drug use, involvement in prostitution, etc. Twenty-one of the respondents had been involved in some form of prostitution. The authors compared the prostitute group with non-prostitutes on a number of prostitution-related variables. Those involved in prostitution were more likely to be “victims of sexual or physical abuse, to live away from their families, to attend school irregularly or not at all and to have a criminal history.” The authors conclude that youth prostitution exists in Austin, and these youth need special consideration and programs (based on their historical experiences) to prevent their sexual exploitation.

Benson, C., & Matthews, R. (1995). Street prostitution: Ten facts in search for a policy. International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 23 395-415.

The authors examine policy alternatives for dealing with female street prostitution in Britain. The paper stems from research involving interviews with vice squad officers, prostitutes, clients, resident groups, and various “authority representatives.” The authors criticize “quick fix” responses to prostitution (i.e., legislation, zones of tolerance, decriminalization), citing their inability to address prostitution-related issues and concerns. As an alternative, the authors identify 10 facts to consider when developing “practical and viable policy” to address problems related to street prostitution (i.e., background and street experiences of prostitutes, information about clients and the impact of prostitution legislation). The authors argue that the law is not a panacea for dealing with street prostitution, and they advocate an approach that considers legal and extra-legal factors. Suggestions for legal and social service initiatives include: enacting procuring legislation, reviewing child welfare, introducing health education, and providing harm reduction strategies for women involved in prostitution.

Biesenthal, L. (1993). Mediating the problematics of female youth prostitution. Unpublished master’s thesis, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontaio, Canada.

Traditional sociological and criminological research on female youth prostitution is characterized by sexist and moralistic thought that has marginalized women’s experience. The author argues that female adolescent prostitutes understand their everyday life by experiencing gender inequities based on her sexuality and lifestyle. Relying on in-depth qualitative interviews with four youth involved in prostitution, this thesis provides a platform for the voice of women, and it attempts to understand how the “young female prostitute defines her world and the contradictions and problematics she faces.” A review of the feminist, traditional, historical sociological/criminological, and prostitution-related literature reveals that our ability to understand female adolescent prostitution has been limited by theory biased toward youth involved in the sex trade. Using Smith’s (1987) alternative sociology, the author gives voice to female adolescent prostitutes, thereby allowing them to express their experience as “subject rather than object of study.”

Bittle, S. (1999). Reconstructing “Youth Prostitution” as the “Sexual Procurement of Children”.Unpublished master’s thesis, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

On 15 October 1986, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-15, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Evidence Act, in an effort to combat child sexual abuse. Bill C-15 included legislation criminalizing obtaining, or attempting to obtain, the sexual services of someone less than 18 years of age. Following its enactment on 1 January 1988, section 212(4) was rarely enforced. Only six charges were laid in Vancouver, British Columbia during the first six years after the new youth procurement law came into effect. Discontented service providers and community activists questioned why section 212(4) was not enforced, and they lobbied for greater protection of sexually exploited street youth. Using Vancouver as a case study, this thesis combines 32 qualitative interviews with several archival sources to examine the evolution of section 212(4). Using the concept of “claimsmaking” as a general analytical framework, the author finds that lobby-group activity associated with s.212(4) acted as a catalyst for (re)conceptualizing “youth prostitution” as the “sexual procurement of youth.” The term “youth prostitute” was discarded because it focused accountability on the youth; instead, the terms “sexually procured youth,”“sexually exploited youth,” and “sexual abuse” were adopted because they described street youths as victims of “sexual predators.” In the process, the buyer was constructed as a “pedophile,” the devil responsible for the sexual procurement of youth. The discourse used during campaigns to have section 212(4) enforced created a frame of reference that was difficult for policy makers to ignore. Indeed, the provincial government responded to concerns about the “sexual procurement of youth” by establishing the “Provincial Prostitution Unit” and committing $1.9 million as part of the Vancouver Action Plan aimed at protecting sexually exploited youth. The thesis concludes that reform efforts associated with section 212(4) were expedited by a “rhetorical system” that conceptualized “youth prostitution” as “sexual exploitation.” This discursive framework confirmed state and social services ownership of the sexual procurement of youth issue. The ensuing philosophical change in approaches to “youth prostitution” reflects a growing international construction of the “sexual exploitation of street youth” as a major social problem.

Bour, D., Young, J. & Henningsen, R. (1984). A comparison of delinquent prostitutes and delinquent non-prostitutes on self-concept. Journal of Offender Counseling, V9, 89-101.

This study explores differences between delinquent prostitutes and delinquent non-prostitutes. The main objectives include determining if the two groups register significantly different scores on the Tennessee Self Concept Scale (TSCS), and comparing social and demographic information between juvenile prostitute groups. The methods include social and demographic data, administering a questionnaire based on the TSCS, and conducting a chi square analysis to determine significance of the identified variables. The data reveal that substance use is higher among non-prostitutes, and that prostitutes had their first sexual experience at an earlier age and scored higher on the Physical Self scale. The authors suggest that involvement in prostitution may be linked to “early sexual intercourse and a positive view of one’s self attributes.” The authors encourage more research examining the effects of parental absence and the impact of physical and sexual abuse on involvement in juvenile prostitution, and they advocate “analysis of new and existing” legal and social programs for addressing juvenile prostitution.

Boyer, D. (1986). Street exit project: Final report. Washington, D.C.: US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families.

The Seattle Youth and Community Services (SYCS) provide street youth with a variety of resources to promote and facilitate exiting prostitution and the street life. This report examines the functioning of SYCS to “identify factors and attributes precipitating youth’s decisions to seek or sever links with services and continue or discontinue prostitution and “street” behavior.” Both quantitative and qualitative data was collected from 40 male and female adolescents who engaged in prostitution and other “street” behavior. Respondents were interviewed and tracked for a 15-month period. The results reveal that 25-30 percent of the youth changed their lifestyles. “The youth who successfully exited ‘street’ lifestyles compared to those who have not exited experienced less child abuse prior to street involvement, had spent more time with parents or parental figures, and had become involved in street life at a later age. The primary evaluation recommendation is that programs move toward self-help models that involve youth in provision for their own needs, decision making in program operations, and services to other youth.”

Bracey, D. (1983). The juvenile prostitute: Victim and offender. Victimology, 8, 151.

This document examines the neglect and abuses that juvenile prostitutes face before entering the sex trade, and the continued victimization they experience when pimps, customers, and muggers abuse them on the streets. The paper begins with an examination of the literature suggesting a link between early sexual victimization and involvement in prostitution; many youth leave a damaged home-life and end up on the streets where they are susceptible to “influences outside of the family” (i.e., making youth vulnerable to entering prostitution). The author asserts that U.S. society, and the criminal justice system in specific treats juvenile deviance and prostitution with ambivalence. Young prostitutes avoid the helping potential of the police in fear of being retained within the criminal justice system. Negative societal attitudes toward prostitution render it difficult to implement and provide adequate treatment of juvenile prostitutes (the lack of treatment alternatives and the increased incidence of violent juvenile crime has supported policies that treat juvenile prostitutes as criminals who need to be punished). The author concludes that most “institutions rarely offer girls satisfactory economic alternatives to prostitution.”

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