Media portrayals of underage sex trafficking include pimps luring girls into prostitution and then controlling, exploiting, and brutalizing them as if they were slaves, but just how representative are these images? A new study finds that pimps are only responsible for luring minors into sex work in a very small number of cases, and that they are not the reason why young prostitutes stay in the industry. This study was published in a new article from the May issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
In one part of their study, the researchers analyzed the largest dataset ever collected in the U.S. from minors working in the sex trade, and found that only 10% of the minors had a pimp at the time of research, only 1.6% lived with a pimp, and 47% reported not knowing a single pimp. Furthermore, pimps were responsible for initiating only 8.1% of the minors into sex work; minors were initiated by their peers 47% of the time and by customers 23% of the time.