Youth Involvement in Prostitution: A Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography

Appendix A: Annotated Bibliography (continued)

Backhouse, C. B. (1985). Nineteenth-century Canadian prostitution law: Reflection of a discriminatory society. Social History, 48, , 387-423.

This article reveals that nineteenth century views of prostitution were characterized by three legal approaches: regulation, prohibition and rehabilitation. Regulatory approaches included the introduction of the Contagious Diseases Act to curb venereal disease in prostitutes. Policy makers tried to prohibit the sex trade by enacting stringent legislation criminalizing prostitution-related activities, including laws pertaining to male frequenters of bawdyhouses. Further, attempts were made to rehabilitate fallen-women by introducing “asylums, women’s prisons and juvenile detention centers.” Regardless of the approach, females involved in prostitution (both young and old) were subjected to discriminatory legislation and/or law enforcement practices. Each response discriminated against prostitutes on the “basis of class, race, ethnic origin and sex.”

Backhouse, C. B. (1991). Prostitution. In C. B. Backhouse, Petticoats and prejudice: Women and law in nineteenth century Canada. Toronto: Women’s Press.

Was Nineteenth Century prostitution an expression of a sexually coercive culture, or was it the independent action of women who “flouted marriage, the patriarchal family, and restrictive sexual mores?” The author approaches this debate by contrasting two stories of women involved in prostitution. The first illustrates how one woman, Mary Gorman, and her daughter became involved in prostitution as a means of subsistence, and how they were constantly exposed to public scrutiny, police harassment and “downward social mobility.” The second outlines the experiences of Esther Forsyth Arscott, the owner of a prominent brothel that was considered a landmark among the working class. The author notes how legislators ignored many of the economic and social factors that made prostitution an option for some women. Overall, the author asserts that women involved in prostitution were the primary focus of male legislators and law enforcement officials who attempted to regulate sexuality during the Nineteenth Century.

Bagley, C. (1985). Child sexual abuse and juvenile prostitution: A commentary on the Badgley report on sexual offences against children and youth. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 76, 65-66.

This article criticizes the Badgley Report on Sexual Offences Against Children and Youth for suggesting that young prostitutes do not experience more sexual offences when growing up than other Canadian children and youth. The author challenges Badgley’s methods and findings: the Committee’s comparison sample was incommensurate; they downplayed the seriousness of the abuse experienced by young prostitutes; and, they failed to explain that most prostitutes experienced sexual abuse at a much younger age (before age of 12) than non-prostitutes. Based on the evidence, Bagley concludes that prior to entering the street life, young prostitutes experienced twice as much abuse than the general population.

Bagley, C. (1986). Prevention of child sexual abuse and its sequels: An Alberta case study and a commentary on the Badgley and Fraser reports. The Social Worker/Le Travailleur Social, 45 (1), 16-19.

The author reviews the findings of the Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution (the Fraser Report) and the Committee on Sexual Offences Against Children and Youth (the Badgley Report). The Badgley Report highlights the extent of child sexual abuse in Canada and the poor state of social services available to deal with the phenomenon. The Badgley Committee recommends the creation of the Officer of the Commissioner to develop “standards of services” for dealing with child sexual abuse cases, and the provincial governments should implement appropriate child protection services. The available evidence suggests: a) most sexually abused youth in Alberta “do not come to the notice of an adult;” b) most sexual abuse victims are not referred to specialists for treatment; c) most child welfare cases in Alberta involve victims of sexual abuse. Surveys in Calgary and Edmonton indicate that 65% of juvenile prostitutes experienced sexual abuse before running away to the streets. The author concludes that some local areas (i.e., Saskatoon, Halifax, Vancouver, Toronto and Winnipeg) have initiated programs to deal with child sexual abuse, however, most governments have failed to “support and stimulate” initiatives advocated by the Badgley Committee.

Bagley, C. & Young, L. (1987). Juvenile prostitution and child sexual abuse: A controlled study. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 6(1), 5-26.

Bagley and Young attempt to replicate Silbert and Pines (1982) research on the association between childhood sexual abuse and subsequent involvement in prostitution. The authors highlight methodological pitfalls behind the Badgley Committee’s statement that young prostitutes do not experience more sexual offences when growing up than other Canadian children and youth. The authors interview 45 former prostitutes (all over the age of 18), and they use a comparison group of non-prostitutes taken from a mental health study of “randomly selected” adults. A second comparison group included 40 women from the mental health study who indicated sexual abuse in childhood. The findings indicate that, in comparison to the control group, former prostitutes were more likely to have experienced a home life that included family-related alcohol issues, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Former prostitutes were more likely to have attempted suicide and exhibit poor mental health and devastated self-esteem.

Bagley, C.,Burrows, B.A., & Yaworski, C. (1991). Street Kids and Adolescent Prostitution: A Challenge for Legal and Social Services. In N. Bala, J. P. Hornick & R. Vogel (Eds.), Canadian Child Welfare Law: Children, Families and the State. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, Inc.

This article reviews the literature concerning factors influencing entry into prostitution (child abuse, home environment and runaway behaviour). The authors discuss the legal and social service strategies recommended by the Badgley and Fraser Committees is discussed, and critique the federal government’s response to these Committees. The authors argue that attempting to return youths to a home-life they describe as intolerable is futile; service agencies must understand and help youth deal with the factors contributing to their decision to prostitute. Responses to juvenile prostitution must consider a youth’s desire for independence, and they should provide appropriate living conditions and educational and counseling programs. Eliminating or reducing the incidence of juvenile prostitution will depend on the development of public policy and attitudes that emphasize helping young prostitutes.

Bagley, C. (1991). The long-term psychological effects of child sexual abuse: A review of some British and Canadian studies of victims and their families. Annals of Sex Research, 4, 23-48.

In this document, the author reviews the Canadian and UK literature on the long-term mental health impact of child sexual abuse in the family setting. Data from 9 Canadian studies note a high incidence of child sexual abuse in dysfunctional families. The negative repercussions of intrafamilial sexual abuse include poor self-esteem, increased depression, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and poor mental health. A study of youth prostitution in Canada and the Philippines reveals significant cultural variations in ascertaining amounts of child sexual abuse.

Bagley, C. (1997). Child sex rings: Marginal, deprived and exploited children. In Children, sex and social Policy: Humanistic solutions for problems of child sexual abuse. Brookfield, USA: Avebury.

Two chapters focus on youth involvement in prostitution: chapter 4 Child Sex Rings: Marginal, Deprived and Exploited Children, and chapter 6: Child and Adolescent Prostitution in North America and the Third World: Case Studies of Cruelty and Cultural Misunderstandings. Chapter 4 explores the problem of child sex rings. The author argues that child sex rings represent the “exploitation of the naïveté and trust of young people.” Interviews with former prostitutes and a former organizer/leader of a sex ring, and results from previous studies are used to describe the dynamics involved with this aspect of the sex trade. Most children involved in sex rings come from broken and disadvantaged homes, where sexual and physical abuse was common. In chapter 6, the author provides information on youth prostitution from three sources: findings from formal studies conducted in North America, personal observations in Calgary, Bombay, Manila and Hong Kong, and personal accounts from former prostitutes. The author differentiates between child and adolescent prostitution: “adolescent prostitutes (girls aged 13 and over) are sought because of their nubility and their newly acquired secondary sexual characteristics; the adolescent women involved usually emphasize their obvious sexuality.” Factors leading to involvement in prostitution (e.g., physical, emotional and sexual abuse in the home, low self-esteem and depression) are outlined and examined. In addition to criticizing the lack of charges against customers of young prostitutes, the author argues that more funding is needed for introducing “effective, skilled and lengthy interventions” that offer psychological and social supports. The author concludes that the crux of the problem is that “keeping taxes down is more important for politicians and the public than intervening to adequately protect children and adolescents from the most vile form of sexual and physical cruelty.”

Bala, N., Harvey, W., & McCormack, H. (1992). The Prosecution of Sexual Offences Against Children and Bill C-15: A Case Law Research Project. Ottawa: Department of Justice Canada.

In response to the Committee on Sexual Offences Against Children and Youth (the Badgley Report, 1984), the federal government introduced Bill C-15, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Evidence Act to confront the issue of child sexual abuse. The report overviews the judicial decisions of cases related to the provisions enacted by Bill C-15. Other relevant child sexual abuse cases are also discussed. There is no judicial response on cases involving section 212(2) (prohibiting living on the avails of someone under the age of 18) or section 212(4) (criminalizing purchasing, or attempting to purchase, the sexual services of someone under the age of 18). However, the authors note judicial support for measures to protect youth involved in prostitution.

Barrett, D. (1998). Young People and Prostitution: Perpetrators in our Midst. International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, 12(3), 475-486.

This article examines youth prostitution in Britain and reports findings from an ethnographic study of youth prostitution in an unidentified city. A conceptual shift characterizes the British approach, whereby youth involved in prostitution have become identified as victims, not offenders (although the author notes that many youth continue to experience conflict with the law). The author favors networking, along with a multi-disciplinary approach to help these youth manage the problems that propel them to life on the streets. Running away is a significant element in youth entering prostitution, and factors such as troubled backgrounds, physical and sexual abuse, and poverty often contribute to the decision to flee the home. Services such as drop-in centres, advice lines and mobile services should be in place to provide support and assist youth to cope with everyday challenges. Homeless youth demonstrate difficulty in obtaining housing, securing employment and obtaining an education, and therefore can easily fall prey to pimps and begin to sell sex to survive. The study, which examined 411 youth working in a secluded area away from the main red light district, revealed the following: youths typically remained in the clients’ vehicle during the sexual encounter, suggesting that perhaps no pimps were involved; and, there was high inter-personal contact between the young girls (possibly for personal security or to keep pimps away). The author encourages new ideas and solutions to “solve the problem of young people being involved in prostitution.”

Barret, D., &Beckett, W. (1996). Child prostitution: Reaching out to children who sell sex to survive British Journal of Nursing, 5, 1120-1125.

A majority of health-care workers gain knowledge of childhood prostitution through the media. To provide appropriate intervention strategies, local health and social care practitioners need to be educated on the factors influencing a youth’s decision to prostitute, including issues of child abuse, poverty, and family relationships. This article examines the economic and political issues associated with youth prostitution, and it reviews some initiatives launched by health and social care workers.

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