Teens trading sex for drugs, booze
VANCOUVER—Teenagers are trading sex for drugs and alcohol at a low but steady rate, yet the vast majority of them attend school and live at home with their parents, a new University of British Columbia study suggests.
Its lead author says research indicates the problem has been occurring “in the shadows,” but that a positive message also has emerged from the findings.
“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,” she said.
The study involved 2,360 students in Grades 7-12 from 28 schools in southeastern B.C. using survey data from a biennial questionnaire conducted by the East Kootenay Addiction Services Society.
Authors of the study, which was published yesterday in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, say the findings are similar to studies conducted in Quebec, the U.S., and Oslo, Norway.
“Given that it has been documented in other industrialized nations, one would expect this is happening in other parts of Canada and other parts of B.C.,” Saewyc reasoned.
She said further studies are needed to learn how pervasive such exchanges are, and to help track whether sex-education programs and other prevention strategies are effective.
The study found that just over two percent of teens who have ever tried alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs also have exchanged sex for those substances.
Boys and girls were almost equally likely to make the trade while 83 percent of boys and 98 percent of girls who did so lived at home with family.
“We do know that the kids who felt like they weren’t supported or cared about by their families were much more likely to be trading sex for alcohol or drugs,” Saewyc said.
Young girls swapping sexual favours with older guys who have cars and money is nothing new, said Diane Sowden, executive director of the Coquitlam, B.C.-based Children of the Street Society.
She said the acts often occur at parties and for something as little as a car ride.