Runaway Kids and Teenage Prostitution: America's Lost, Abandoned, and Sexually Exploited Children

Runaway Kids and Teenage Prostitution: America's Lost, Abandoned, and Sexually Exploited Children

Runaway Kids and Teenage Prostitution: America's Lost, Abandoned, and Sexually Exploited Children

Runaway Kids and Teenage Prostitution: America's Lost, Abandoned, and Sexually Exploited Children


This concise and accessible new text examines the correlations between runaway children and teenage prostitution in the United States from a criminological, sociological, and psychological perspective. The author takes a systematic approach to defining and describing the differences between youth who run away from home and those who leave institutional settings and distinguishes the difference between runaway and throwaway children. A careful examination of teenage prostitution among girls and boys helps to illuminate the special problems faced by children who have run away. In addition, the author discusses laws related to runaways, teenage prostitution, and the sexual exploitation of minors as well as the criminal justice response to the problems. Runaways and prostitution involving youth in other countries is also explored. The text's findings support current conclusions on the characteristics of runaways, the relationship between runaways and teen prostitution, and the implications of running away from home.

Runaway Kids and Teenage Prostitution is divided into five parts. Part I examines the scope and dynamics of running away and differentiates between runaways and throwaways. Part II explores teenage prostitution and provides information on girl and boy prostitutes and the people who exploit them. Child sexual abuse and child pornography as correlates to the problem are studied in Part III, and Part IV reviews the law that atttempts to combat teenage prostitution. Part V is devoted to an examination of the scope and significance of the problem in other countries. Together, these chapters provide readers with a clear picture of the problem of runaways and teenage prostitution in the United States and around the world.


Runaway youth have become, if not an epidemic, a major concern in American society in the 2000s. Since the 1970s, much attention has been shed on the issue of homeless and sexually exploited street kids through public outcry, the media, and legislative and social policy initiatives. According to the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children, there are at least 1 million children who are classified as “missing” in the United States annually. Of these, more than half are runaways from home or institutional care or children who have been thrown away or abandoned by parents or caretakers. Although most runaways eventually return home, there are still hundreds of thousands who end up permanently living on the streets each year. Many of these kids have been sexually, physically, or emotionally abused or neglected at home; have problems with substance abuse, school attendance, or mental disorders; or are otherwise seriously disadvantaged in their displacement to street life.

Runaway children typically encounter a number of troubling situations when away from home for an extended time, beginning with the lack of food, shelter, and other basic necessities. Most must turn to prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation just to survive and, in many cases, become addicted to or abuse drugs and alcohol. The risks of HIV infection, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assaults, and other forms of victimization are high among runaway teens caught at the crossroads of high-risk activities and dangerous street life. Many of these runaways graduate into drug dealing, petty theft, and violent criminal activities in order to support drug habits and make ends meet.

Runaway Kids and Teenage Prostitution will explore the correlation between runaways and prostitution and its implications for children and so-

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