A new study out of British Columbia, Canada suggests a small number of rural teens are trading sex for booze or drugs. But what is even more surprising is that most of those kids still live at home with family.
The UBC study found that just over 2% of teenagers living in rural areas of British Columbia who have used alcohol, marijuana or other drugs admit to using their bodies to get the substances. The study found that an equal number of boys and girls traded sex and almost 98% live at home and still go to school.
The research published today in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, used data from a 2009 survey of almost 2,400 students from Grades 7-12 in 28 schools in BC's East Kootenays, the first study to track the issue among rural students. Co-author of the study, Dean Nicholson says, “This isn’t just happening in the East Kootenays.” “Other research has documented this among students in Quebec, in the U.S., and in Oslo, Norway, at similar rates. So it’s probably an issue in other schools across Canada and B.C., but school surveys aren’t asking about this.”
“Several health issues can be linked to trading sex for alcohol or drugs,” says senior author Elizabeth Saewyc, a professor of nursing and adolescent medicine at UBC. “We need to talk frankly with young people about this issue, both at home and in school.” Saewyc tells the Vancouver Sun,"Family makes a big difference. When parents talk with kids about their values and goals and when they model healthy romantic relationships, this does influence their own kids' sexual decision-making."
Diane Sowden, executive director of the Children of the Street Society tells The Sun, young girls swapping sexual favours with older guys who have cars and money is nothing new, and often happens at parties and for something as little as a car ride.
Aside from the health risks for STDs including HIV and Hepatitis C, the behavior is also associated with emotional issues like suicidal thoughts or injuring themselves through things like cutting. And Saewyc says, "People who barter for sex with youth in exchange for substances are engaging in child exploitation."