My counterpoint to your counterpoint. Your completely hijacking the OP’s original intent, masquerading thought as fact, and inserting counterpoint’s to points that are never made.
The 13 year old figure is, I agree, difficult to prove. I personally choose not to use the figure when discussing the issue.
I just think it’s ironic that you’re linking to a source that’s first line is about thinking about source when the source you’re linking to isn’t any kind of academic research paper about the topic, but a think piece that attacks the claims of academic papers with nonacademic claims, purported research not conducted about herself (that we have no way to verify), without any kind of attribution, and fallacious strawman arguments in the form of personal attacks about an individual who didn’t even conduct the original study mentioned, but simply popularized the figure.
I’ve personally read the piece by Silbert and Pines article and do remember the 13 year figure, but I don’t have a copy on hand and can’t find it anywhere right now. If I do I’ll edit with a link. I also would suggest you read the WHISPER Oral Report by Evelina Giobbe, published in 1987, which argues that based on interviews that the average age is 14 — also sadly, no link.
Once again, I don’t use it as an argument because even if those papers do contain those figures, determining something like this from limited studies based on personal interviews is dubious at best. It’s also sadly, the only evidence we have because I know of no other studies that try to determine this.
Regardless, whether the average age of entry to prostitution is 13, 14 or 16 — I wonder how it really makes a difference. Is a 16 year old any more equipped to handle the incredibly high victimization rates in the forms of absurdly high mortality rates and high instances of rape then a 13 year old? If he/she can’t even legally consent to sex, how can he/she consent to a career in it?
Also, the OP never claims that there hundreds of thousands of instances of forced coercion (there are many different kinds of coercion, not just violence or threats of violence, but also financial or through the exercise of power) in the US. She even says ‘this may be happening in your backyard.’