Ones adolescent stage is viewed as innocent and pure. However, a multi-million dollar industry within our world strips teens from their youth and leaves them fighting for their lives. Children as young as 10 are working the streets as their life style revolves around prostitution. United States of America implies an image that any individual can live a life filled with money. However, not everyone reaches this “American Dream”. Those who were not born into money know the hardships of the streets and the feeling of desperation and loneliness. Societies youth fall victim to prostitution as an ttempt to fill a void within their lives.
Their bodies become the product of their new found income. Media avoids revealing the truth about teen prostitution and many individuals within society show little interest nor sympathy towards them. Unfortunately, many view teen prostitution as a crime and those who are involved in teen prostitution are referred to as criminals. However, society is incapable of seeing beyond stereotypes. Teen prostitutes fall victim to countless obstacles that have taken place within their personal life in which lead them to be stripped from their innocence and forced to sell their odies in order to survive. In a world that revolves around money, sex, and drugs, these teens become vulnerable to STD’s and put themselves in situations in which can be life threatening.
Both sexes undergo intensive psychological damage while prostituting and feel as if it is impossible to escape from the world they have so willingly ran to. In Joan J. Johnson’s, Teen Prostitution, Johnson evaluates America’s youth and the connection with the rapid increase in teen prostitutes and the reasons why teens choose this path. Majority of youths enter the life style of a prostitute due to growing up in busive homes, feeling neglected, or have been dealing with money struggle to support their drug habit. Evidently, throughout Johnson’s analysis she reveals a solution on how to prevent our youths from resulting to prostitution, her answer involves a prevention plan. Through statistics, articles, and personal stories, Johnson successfully unravels the truth behind why teens end up on the streets and the outcome of this social problem.
Joan J. Johnson’s, Teen Prostitution is structured into ten chapters. Within her novel Johnson goes into depth and evaluates the cause, process, and outcome of teens who urn to prostitution. Statistics have shown that an estimate of 400,000 teens enter the world of prostitution. According to Johnson’s research: All but 5 percent of today’s teenage prostitutes have been violently physically abused, many by their own parents. All but 15 percent have been coerced into having incestuous sexual relations with their families members [… ] 5 percent have been sexually abused by other people not in the immediate family. Finally only 2 percent come from families that have remained intact with both natural parents still leaving at home. ( Johnson 12)
It is clear that societies youths feel the need to escape as a result to the feeling of betrayal from family members. However, studies have shown that not all teens fall victim to extensive abuse or betrayal. Some choose this life style or have fallen in love with their pimps. These types of situations prevent the teen from leaving this form of activity. Johnson provides a study by Dr. Michael Braizerman from the University of Minnesota to back up her theory. Dr. Braizerman states that pimps use manipulation and persuasion to keep these females and sometimes males hooked on prostituting.
Some of these tactics include drug addiction and dependency. Pimps target those who are socially awkward, and unattractive, then these pimps navigate themselves into this individuals life and makes them believe there is something better along side them and there business. Johnson stresses how abused children would rather sell their bodies than stay within a home where they feel abandoned and where they are surrounded by violence. Therefore, teens take drastic measures and find themselves on the streets, barely clothed, and turning tricks for a few dollars. In Elaine Landau’s, On the Streets, Landau reveals hat around 85 percent of those who run away from there abused parents are most likely to become involved in prostitution. In a global scale approximately 2 million teens run away each year and 20 percent of these teens become full-time prostitutes.
It is clear that with Johnson’s collected data she declares that abused teens not only face psychological hardships, but they are most likely to take part in hard-core prostitution. These teens have now formed dependency among there pimps and “sugar daddies”. Johnson goes into depth when discussing the forms of abuse that can ultimately destroy a hild and force them to grow up into the world of prostitution. Johnson demonstrates four forms of abuse that can take place within one’s childhood and adolescent stage. One of Johnson’s evidence for why teens result to prostituting is because most of these teenagers have originated from abusive homes. An abusive home can include parents that show little to no interest to their offspring or can be considered as irresponsible towards their family duties. When abuse takes places it leaves the victim vulnerable and unable to defend for themselves. Physical abuse involves a parent using their fists or hysical object. Johnson explains that physical abuse has been ignored by society for decades. However, its internal damage is hard to ignore. Evidence collected proved that females were more accountable for physical abuse rather than males. Seventy-five out of a hundred female prostitutes have admitted to being abused by a male father figure in their childhood.
Joan J. Johnson says, “Most often, youths are “put down” as failures, weaklings, and unwanteds. ” (Johnson 51). Successfully Johnson was able to show how emotional abuse can also impact children and force them to make choices that will ffect their lives forever. Through verbal abuse, children begin to lack self-esteem and begin to believe everything that their parents call them, having them helpless and incapable of accomplishment. Children who face sexual abuse use endure this from a very young age. Johnson states that sexual abuse could be the main reason why teens lash out and become prostitutes. Johnson refers to this form of abuse as, “the fastest growing category of family-violence cases. ” (Johnson 52). Johnson proves that sexual abuse can range from an age as early as three and can continue until the child leaves home.
Joan’s final form of abuse is considered as incest. According to Johnson incest involves a child that is being sexually abused by a member within their own family. Evidently Johnson’s claim on the affects of abuse within one’s childhood proves that no matter the form of abuse, it leaves the victim with psychological damage. These victimized children see no other way and are convinced it is their duty to submit themselves. Johnson states that years of sexual abuse forces the victim to allow others to sexually abuse them as well.
Clearly a pattern begins to take its shape and these victimized teens see no other option but to flee to the streets since they were betrayed by those who were meant to care, protect, and nurture them. With any form of abuse comes along the higher percentage that these victims of abuse or rape will soon turn into teen prostitutes. The term neglect is frequently used by Johnson within her novel, as she evaluates the structure within one’s home and the neglect that these teenage victims are forced to overcome. Johnson states that, “Many come from homes charged with tension. ” (Johnson 44).
Along with tension comes arguments, unhappiness, and abandonment. Neglect usually starts from a troubled home. These troubled homes occasionally include a family member who possesses a drug or alcohol addiction. Johnson provides her readers evidence to support her theory, as a result about 70 percent of teen prostitutes claimed to have watched their families crash and burn through divorce or separation. The author then declares that once a family is shattered, the victims life undergoes countless challenges. Neglect is shown towards the child as neither parent feels the need to care for their offspring.
This leaves the child to wonder for a father or mother figure. In order to fill the void of attention and care, these teens find hope within their pimps and fellow prostitutes. In their eyes, this type of relationship is the best they can receive and the closest to a family. Ken Magid, chief of psychological services at Golden Medical Clinic in Colorado said that “few children are ever able to trust others or form intimate, deep relationships. ” Due to all the traumatic stress and neglect provided by their families these teens will become un-attached to reality.
Many of these teen prostitutes were forced to grow up at a very young age, due to the lack of a parent figure. The outcome of a troubled home results in a child having to facing drug or alcohol abuse, or form a mental illness. Alongside neglect, disappointment, and rejection comes the terms of a “runaway”, “throwaway”, and “foster care runaways”. Each form have demonstrated neglect in one way or another from a family member or parent figure in which forces these teens to run from their problems and seek salvation. Johnson refers to a runaway as a teen who chooses to leave their home, whether it be due to abuse or neglect.
Statistics has shown that the longer an individual stays on the streets, the more likely they will turn to prostitution and avoid returning home. According to Joan J. Johnson, family troubles are the main reason why runaways occur within America. Unlike a runaway whom chooses to leave their troubled home, a throwaway is given no choice and thrown out by their guardian. Johnson uses a study collected by a U. S Senate committee that states that families kick their children out before they are capable of fending for themselves. These parents refuse to take their children back into their homes due to a mental illness or he fact that they are unable to cope with them any longer. Johnson successfully demonstrates the change that has occurred within the United States in the last few decades. It is clear that decades before our time, extended family would usually step in if a relative was in needed or neglected by their own intimate family. However, Johnson has acknowledged that as time has passed our so called extended family have begun to isolate themselves and move farther away with little to no communication.
Therefore, with no help from relatives, these throwaways are left with no other choice then to sell the nly thing they have to offer, their bodies. Majority of teen prostitutes have originated through the foster care system. Johnson recognized that most of these teens were put into foster care due to being in neglected homes. However, evidently these teens were already damaged mentally and physically that it was too late to save them from prostituting. On the other hand Johnson adds that the foster care system can also share the blame in pursuing a teen to runaway and turn to prostituting. Even with support from social workers and foster parents, some of these children are scarred to the point where they reject any orm of relationship. Johnson lashes out against the media and blames the media for putting a negative light against foster parents and the foster care system in general.
Due to the perspective of the media, many teens view the streets as a more safer gateway in comparison to the foster care system. Despite the fact that if these teens are runaways or throwaways, they have been forced down a path in which no soul should be forced to go down. Abusive homes and neglect forces a teen to end up on the streets. However, drugs and money are the reasons why some of our youths stay. The drug world is a multi-million dollar industry and is sed by pimps to secure their prostitutes and ensure they continue their business. Johnson stresses the use of drugs and its important role in the prostitution world.
Pimps offer drugs to their prostitutes and manipulate them into thinking that it is a form of an escape. After a drug addiction is formed, Johnson says, “drugs have long been used to create dependencies that entrap male and female prostitutes, keeping them working, passive, and obligated in order to support their habits. ” (Johnson 96). Pimps have developed strategies that ensure their prostitutes loyalty to their business. Once again, Johnson compares the past and present.
She identifies the drug abuse that occurred in the past in comparison to recent years. Johnson states that in the past pimps were the ones who introduced teens to drugs and addiction. However, times have changed and now teens have already experimented with drugs long before entering the streets. It is clear that many teens turn tricks just to support their drug addiction. Johnson claims that as a teens drug addiction worsens the harder it is to resist prostituting. Not only do drugs pursue a teen to prostitute, but money does as well. Money is the key attribute for survival and like any other human being, it is viewed as a necessity.
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