Foreign parents should wait until their kids have graduated high school before sending them to study English in Vancouver, according to the owner of a local homestay agency.

Shannon Green, who runs Vancouver Central Homestay, said she wasn’t surprised by a UBC study released yesterday that found Asian teens living here without parents are more likely than Canadian peers to be having sex or using hard drugs.

“My personal thought is it’s a result of absentee parental supervision,” said Green, adding she’s had homestay requests for eight year olds.

“They long for their parents, for support and ... there’s only so much (homestay parents) can do.”

Green had one student who got pregnant and knew of another girl at a different homestay agency who was pregnant when she arrived, and whose parents asked the homestay family to take her for an abortion.

Green said homestay families need to involve their students in all aspects of family life, including grocery trips and excursions to the beach.

Sabrina Wong, co-author of the UBC study, said part of the problem is no one is keeping track of the teens who come to Canada to study.

“Teenagers need parents — or parent-like adults — to provide guidance and support, not just room and board,” said Wong.

Anamaria Yepes, 19, a student from Colombia, said peer pressure and language barriers are partly to blame.

“They can’t express (themselves) in their own language,” she said.

with files from natasha poon

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