Boys are just as likely to be sexually abused as girls, a University of B.C. report released yesterday claims.
The UBC study found that more than one in three street-involved B.C. teens have been sexually exploited, regardless of gender. The majority of teens, as young as 12, first experienced exploitation after they ran away from home or were kicked out.
“This is a hidden population,” said principal investigator Elizabeth Saewyc. “Our findings shatter some of the common stereotypes about what sexual exploitation is, and who is exploited.”
Researchers studied the experiences of more than 500 sexually exploited youth, aged 12 to 25, from 2000 to 2006.
The study says lesbian, gay and bisexual teens account for a third of those exploited.
“Teenagers belonging to sexual minority groups were the most at risk of sexual abuse,” said scientific director Dr. Joy Johnson.
The study also found that a significant number of teens exchanged sex for essentials, such as food and shelter.
“Teens shouldn’t have to be exploited just so they have a place to stay, or food to eat,” said research associate Jayson Anderson.