Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Politics and Government: Political Science

Committee Chair

T.Y. Wang


Legislators have been responding to the growing push to treat youth in the sex industry as victims of a crime instead of perpetrators. Recent legislative changes have occurred in every state and nationally as part of anti-trafficking legislation, not prostitution law directly. While the content of these laws has been studied, its outcomes for youth have not. This study uses a cross-sectional time-series model to test the impact that changes to state trafficking law has had on juvenile prostitution arrest rates. Findings support the hypothesis that legislation passed with a juvenile protection component decreases the juvenile prostitution arrest rate. It also found that higher child poverty rates in a state resulted in lower arrest rates, opposite the anticipated direction. The author concludes by making a case for youth decriminalization and access to services, as well as for a reframing of the prostitution-consent law paradox and the implicit definition of prostitution victimhood in the current literature.


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