Teens are trading sex for drugs and alcohol.Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that just over 2% of teens are trading sex for drugs and alcohol.
In their study of 2,360 students, the scientists found that 83% of boys and 98% of girls who were willing to trade sex for alcohol or drugs still lived at home with family. While this is deeply disturbing news for parents, there is some good news.
“Family makes a big difference,” said study co-author and UBC Prof. Elizabeth Saewyc. “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.”
While the number of teens trading sex for alcohol or drugs seems to be relatively steady, similar studies in Quebec, the U.S. and Norway show that this phenomenon is widespread. The teens most likely to engage in this risky behaviour are those with a poor home life.
“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.
Teens who do engage in this type of behaviour are putting themselves in a great deal of danger. By trading sex for alcohol or drugs, they are risking STDs like HIV and Hepatitis C. These teens are also more likely to become addicts and binge drink than their less promiscuous colleagues.
Teens trading sex for favours can also cause emotional damage. They are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, cut themselves or self-harm in another way.
Parents looking to prevent this type of behaviour need to start at home. “Contrary to popular opinion, teenagers do listen to their parents,” Saewyc said. “When there’s a strong, caring relationship they really do want to know what their parents think and they want that advice.”