Trading sexual favors for illicit substances is common in many countries, though few consider the problem extending to children and teenagers. Recent statistics illuminate the problem among teenagers in Canada, highlighting the change in social opinion on both sex and drug abuse.

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Teenagers In Canada

Because the practice usually goes unnoticed, the problem of teenagers trading sex for drugs has not collected much attention from legislators. Although the statistics haven't made a significant jump, the numbers have remained steady, and some of the data is startling. 83 percent of boys and 98 percent of girls, between grades seven and 12, who have engaged in sex in order to pay for drugs still live at home with their families.

It's never been uncommon for young girls to trade sexual acts with older male partners in order to secure favors, but this form of sexual exploitation adds an even more unsettling factor—the notion that they are doing this to secure alcohol and illicit substances. Studies have confirmed that both males and females are equally likely to engage in the acts, and the risk of transmitting infections like Hepatitis C and HIV is tremendously high in the entire population.

One of the most disturbing aspects is the rapidly growing acceptance of this practice. Some authorities have pointed to a number of emerging cultural trends, such as certain varieties of rap music, that glorify both sexual exploitation and the use of drugs. While there is not a clear indication that this causes the behavior to begin or continue, the fact remains that many teenagers today consider the practice either acceptable or of no major concern.

Sex Bartering In Other Countries

Trading sex for drugs is nothing new, and is certainly not limited to Canada. Many people in nations all over the world resort to prostitution in order to fund their drug abuse habits. Unfortunately, the problem is infrequently reported, because many of the individuals who initiate the sexual acts are doing so willingly in order to obtain drugs.

Any sexual act that involves an adult and a teenager is considered an act of child exploitation, and is viewed harshly in every developed country. But many teenagers prefer to stay silent about the acts, valuing their acquisition of drugs over any notion of immoral action.

An Effective Solution?

It's not surprising that many studies have found that children in homes that are unsupportive or emotionally alienating are at a much higher risk of engaging in sexual practices for drugs. Encouraging a supportive, healthy family environment can help prevent these kinds of acts from occurring. Sex and drug education programs have also been shown to be effective, spreading the facts about the dangers of sexual trade and drug abuse.

The trade of sexual favors for drugs among teenagers is a difficult problem to solve, because so many acts go intentionally unreported and unacknowledged. A number of educational programs are already in place, but community support is essential in ensuring that information is validated, and supporting children so they never feel the need to engage in such a practice to begin with.