According to a 2003 Newsweek article, teen prostitutes are getting younger -
"According to the FBI, the average age of a new recruit is just 13; some are as young as 9. And, while the vast majority of teen prostitutes today are runaways, illegal immigrants and children of poor urban areas, experts say a growing number now come from middle-class homes." (Smalley, 2003)
This development is of particular importance and one deserving of attention by government because these are cases of minors who take money for sex. Although they are considered to be taking part in an illegal activity, these children are also considered "victims of crime." (Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section)
The majority of minors who become involved in prostitution are runaway or thrown away children from abusive or otherwise dysfunctional homes. They are often lured into prostitution by sophisticated criminals who convince them not only that they will earn money to survive but also that they will be taken care of and have the secure loving environment that they lacked at home. However, as what was observed by law enforcers, "typical" teen prostitutes no longer come from this sector of society. There are teens who "sell" themselves in exchange of expensive clothes and other luxuries. In short, they engage in this trade not out of necessity but for things they want and desire.
In this way, the children are considered "victims" because they are made to believe of getting things they want at the expense of personal and health risks and costs.
These consequences on the teen prostitutes, according to a report by Judd, et.al. (2002) include:
Other physical injuries such as miscarriage, stabbing, loss of consciousness, head injuries
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Drug and alcohol abuse
Acute emotional problems
Judd (2002) further discussed that prostitution also exacts a high toll on society. Cities, counties, and taxpayers all bear the brunt of the costs for police and judicial personnel and correctional programs necessary to prosecute crimes and punish offenders who engage in prostitution. Each prostitution-related arrest costs taxpayers approximately $2,000. The average cost of controlling prostitution in U.S. cities is estimated to be nearly $12 million.
Therefore, teen prostitution is one social problem that needs to be addressed immediately and should be the focus of attention of all sectors of American society. At present, there are special groups and organizations which are closely looking into this problem. Maybe what is needed is support from government in terms of legislation and vigilance among people especially parents of teens who may become victims of this centuries-old problem.
"Child Prostitution FAQs." Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Criminal Division, US Department of Justice. June 7. 2008
Judd, Thomas et.al. "What are the Costs When Teens are Prostituted" in Prostituted Teens: More Than a Runaway Problem, Michigan Family Impact Seminars
Briefing Report No. 2002-2, April 9, 2002
"Prostitution." Wikipedia - The free encyclopedia. June 7, 2008
Smalley, Suzanne. "Nationwide