Canadian Teens Trade Sex for Substances

By Valerie Tejeda 08/03/12

And the practice is happening all over the world, experts warn.

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Teens in rural areas of Canada are trading sex for drugs and alcohol, according to research published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. The study was based on a survey of 2,300 students in grades 7-12 at 28 schools in British Colombia, collected back in 2009. Two percent of those teens who said they had used alcohol or marijuana had also exchanged sex for these substances. Both boys and girls had engaged in sex-trading—and 98% of them were living with their families at the time. “This isn't just happening in the East Kootenays," says study co-author Dean Nicholson, executive director of East Kootenay Addiction Services Society. "Other research has documented this among students in Quebec, in the US, and in Oslo, Norway, at similar rates. So it's probably an issue in other schools across BC, but school surveys aren't asking about this.” The study also highlighted regular binge drinking, which previous research has linked to depression and sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents. "Several health issues can be linked to trading sex for alcohol or drugs,” says Elizabeth Saewyc, a professor of nursing and adolescent medicine at University of British Columbia and senior author of the study. “We need to talk frankly with young people about this issue, both at home and in school.”

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Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix,, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.