|Child/Teen Prostitution: What Are the Risk Factors?|
Child trafficking mostly deals with various abuses and exploitation carried out by adults towards children. It is a process of luring, deceiving, and recruiting minors, with or without free will, into potential harm and danger of hard labor, slavery, and prostitution. While many of the victims, in fact, are from poor and underdeveloped nations, there are still a significant number of them here on American soil.
For nations where child trafficking is a lucrative business, children are not limited to providing one form of service. This means that a certain group may be smuggled to Africa to become soldiers, some may be shipped to China for hard labor, and others may become child prostitutes in Eastern Europe. But in the United States, the trend is somewhat different. Although it can be pretty outrageous to accept the notion that American teens are also prone to trafficking, it is still a very potent reality. In fact, most survey and research groups will tell you that the number of children and teens trafficked in America annually are rapidly increasing. But unlike Cambodia or Thailand, there is no complex trade or service.
Trafficking in this part of the world is directed towards prostitution services.Trafficking in this part of the world is directed towards prostitution services.
However, poverty is not always the reason why teens resort to prostitution. There are various risk factors involved that will educate us as to why such a developed and industrialized nation like the US gets a kind of problem that’s usually attributed to poverty stricken territories.
Absenteeism and Disinterest in School
We have to accept that children are the most defenseless and vulnerable members of society. Because of that, they can become easy targets for any kind of malicious and exploitative objective from adults. While most American teens and children are well educated by parents and academic institutions, there are many unfortunate ones who haven’t even set foot in a school. However the risk factor involved in here is not the absence of access to education but the lack of interest in it. Children and teens that lack the interest in school are very prone to prostitution. By being away from an institution that provides them with the tools to combat negative aspects of society, they become very misguided and imprudent. As a result, they may likely be approached by traffickers, pimps, and offenders who think they have a very precious commodity at hand.
Absenteeism is a very familiar case in American schools. For the most part, students run away from schools because of reasons like expulsion, suspension, boredom, or just plain disinterest. As they begin to abandon knowledge and education for something else, they have a very high probability of getting in the prostitution trade.
The same as the first risk factor, running away from home is highly connected to the increasing number of teen or child prostitutes in this country. There are different reasons for it but the most salient is emotional abuse. Children escape home in order to avoid the emotional hardships they experience due to their parents fighting or the father physically abusing other members of the family. For some, favoritism and neglect are also influential. Nonetheless, the result is always the same. As they abandon their families, they are forced to also abandon their childhood.As they abandon their families, they are forced to also abandon their childhood.
Becoming alone and independent in the streets entails the responsibility of providing food and shelter for themselves. And by the time they realize it isn’t working, they resort to finding someone else who can help them. So that’s when prostitution comes in. In a few months after running away from home, the child/teen is now transported to other states or areas where she seeks money by providing sexual service to different clients.
In the traditional view, the majority of American teens who become prostitutes are forced into it because of factors such as poverty, abuse, and neglect. But it does not mean that the victims are exclusive to those underprivileged and unfortunate ones. In fact, there are a large number of teens who come from well-to-do families that have engaged themselves in the profession. Why? - Because they are rebelling against their parents. Child and teen uprisings may mean usual stuff like drinking all night, staying late with friends or perhaps not going home for a few days. But in certain instances, it may go to the extent of permanently leaving the home and opting to stay somewhere else. Because of such rebellious acts, these types of teens are not anymore afraid to use drugs and alcohol. Being high and drunk will impair their judgment and reasoning, and that leads to sexual encounters with strangers.In a short period, they begin to solicit money out of sex, and that’s it – prostitution.In a short period, they begin to solicit money out of sex, and that’s it – prostitution.
Sexual Abuse, Mistreatment, and Neglect
Being sexually abused and molested is a very painful experience for a child. And to make it even worse, those who run away from it may eventually be led to doing the same sexual favor, but this time, for money.
Intra familial sexual abuse is alarmingly common in American homes. A sexually abusive father, sibling, uncle, or any relative puts a child under a dangerous cloud in her own home. As long as the abuse is continued and prolonged, she is able to build more reason to run away. As she sees her mother neglecting her and tolerating the abuse, it seems like hope is nowhere to find. To aggravate things, mistreatment and disrespect are shown by other members of the family and those people who know about it, and that makes her feel she’s guilty. For anyone as young as 10 years old, this kind of traumatic experience is impossible to bear and the only way to get out of it is running away.
Thus, it is not the sexual abuse experienced at home that directly leads to prostitution; it is the last resort of running away from home. But do they have a choice? By running away, prior sexual abuse becomes a risk factor for prostitution because it forces the child to be on her own. She becomes dependent to others and that will likely lead to alcohol and drug exposure. In no time, she’s in the prostitution business.