The national study finds that nearly one-third of prostituted juveniles taken into custody by police are treated more as criminal offenders, or juvenile delinquents, than as victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The study’s authors say this reflects controversy and confusion nationwide among criminal justice authorities about how to handle the issue of juvenile prostitution.
The study identifies cases through interviews with police and a nationwide survey of law enforcement agencies. It finds that prostituted juveniles are more likely to be treated as victims by police when they are younger than 16, female, frightened, dirty, or identified as runaways. They are more likely to be treated as offenders when they are directly encountered by police through community patrols and undercover operations aimed to control prostitution, as opposed to coming to attention through a self-report or a report filed by a relative or community member. Ultimately, the study finds that police are doing little about juvenile prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation.
The study appears in the February issue of the journal Child Maltreatment. It was released by the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes against Children Research Center (CCRC), which works to combat crimes against children by providing high-quality research and statistics to the public, policymakers, law enforcement personnel and other child welfare practitioners.
Get the JCCF News Summary by email: