Newsroom Archive


Researchers Hit the Streets to Analyze Complexities of the Underage-Sex Trade

A team of researchers that includes John Jay PhD student Amber Horning and Professors Anthony Marcus and Ric Curtis of the Department of Anthropology has generated a flurry of media attention with their recently published studies that provide a nuanced look at how the market for underage sex functions, and in the process skewer some stereotypical notions of the trade posited by earlier research.

The research, based on three separate studies of underage prostitution and sex workers in New York City and Atlantic City, was published in the April 15, 2014, edition of the journal The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. The team conducted interviews with pimps, underage prostitutes and customers of underage prostitutes, and found that minors were initiated into the sex trade by girls roughly their own age 47 percent of the time. In 23 percent of the cases, customers were responsible for girls becoming underage prostitutes.

The findings clashed with conventional portrayals of pimps being largely responsible for luring girls into the sex trade and forcing their compliance through intimidation or drug addiction.

Researchers Jo Sanson and Efram Thompson also contributed to the published report as co-authors.

The report is featured on the London School of Economics’ new USApp American Politics and Policy blog (, which launched in September 2013. USApp’s central mission is to increase the public understanding of social science in the context of American politics and policymaking. Click here, to access the blog article.

Click here, for coverage of the research in

For an article in The Examiner, click here.  Read additional coverage in the International Business Times  and in the online source