Culture

A Harrowing Study Reveals How Some U.S. Teens Are Selling Sex In Order To Eat

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A haunting study published by the Urban Institute shows that American teenagers often have to resort to selling sex in order to afford food. Across the 10 communities studied by the thinktank, girls described “selling their body,” “sex for money,” and “transactional dating” with older men as survival tools. Hungry boys, on the other hand, spoke of shoplifting and selling drugs to alleviate poverty.

“I’ve been doing research in low-income communities for a long time, and I’ve written extensively about the experiences of women in high poverty communities and the risk of sexual exploitation, but this was new,” Susan Popkin, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and the report’s lead author, told the Guardian. “Even for me, who has been paying attention to this and has heard women tell their stories for a long time, the extent to which we were hearing about food being related to this vulnerability was new and shocking to me … It’s a situation I think is just getting worse over time.”

The study, which was conducted in partnership with Feeding America, created one male and one female focus group in each of 10 poor communities across the country, including neighborhoods in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, rural North Carolina, and eastern Oregon. Nearly 200 participants between the ages of 13 and 18 participated in the study.

“We heard the same story everywhere, a really disturbing picture about hunger and food insecurity affecting the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable young people,” Popkin said. “The fact that we heard it everywhere from kids in the same way tells us there’s a problem out there that we should be paying attention to.”

(Via The Guardian & Urban Institute)

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