This book aims to document and analyse the enduring involvement of children in the commercial sex trade in twentieth-century England. It uncovers new evidence to indicate the extent of under-age prostitution over this period, a much-neglected subject despite the increased visibility of children more generally.
The authors argue that child prostitution needs to be understood within a broader context of child abuse, and that this provides one of the clearest manifestations of the way in which 'deviant groups' can be conceived of as both victims and threats. The picture of child prostitution which emerges is one of exclusion from mainstream society and the law, and remoteness from the agencies set up to help young people in trouble, which were often reluctant to accept the realities of child prostitution. The evidence provided in this book indicates that the circumstances which have led young people into prostitution over the last hundred years amount, at worst, to physical or psychological abuse or neglect, and at best as the result of limited choice.