althoug teen prostitues live in the same cities and towns as ordinary teenagers across the country, their world is very different. They are here in our country, and they are hidden from most people. They are kids, and the life they live separates them from most other kids and from normal teenage activities . They are criminals, but they are the victims of some crimes. They are family members, but most have not known a family’s love . They have independence, but they do not have freedom. They are earning money, but they live in poverty. They are sexually active, but without intimacy. They have escaped one set of rules but are forced to obey other, harsher ones.
The world of prostitution is so separate from the ordinary world that most people rarely catch more than a glimpse of it. If they pause to wonder about a teen prostitute’s life—to ask what it’s really like, what would make a young person want to live like that, or what prostitution does to a teenager—they will not find many clues in the normal world. Even when the news tells of the death or the arrest of a young prostitute, it rarely explains anything about the world that young person lived in.
Looking behind the surface of that separate world is one way to see how teen prostitutes really live. Even from an early age, these kids often have a different and painful experience of the world. The steps they take to avoid being hurt in the ordinary world often lead them, unknowingly, into the separate world of prostitution. Exploring what prostitution means to the kids who are involved in it helps show what has worked and what hasn’t in helping teen prostitutes return to the ordinary world.
For some teens, prostitution is a kind of turned-around way of trying to get the financial support and love that they need, but that their families haven’t been able to provide. Yet their families may cling to a respectable image that is not connected to the harsh realities their child must cope with on the street. Lacking parental support and love, these teens would have a very difficult time trying to cross back into the world where they grew up.
here are some examples of what some teen prostitutes have to say about:
My family knows about it, but since I left home and have been supporting myself, I gets [sic] along better with them than when I lived there. My dad, he don’t say nothin’ about it. My mother says she wished I wasn’t out there, but she will accept me back and I am still her daughter no matter what I did.