9. Which Comes First: Sexual Exploitation or Other Risk Exposures Among Street-involved Youth?

A number of risky behaviours or experiences are associated with sexual exploitation among street-involved youth. The challenge is trying to determine the timing and pattern of these experiences. For example, exploited youth often report heavy alcohol and drug use – but does that alcohol and drug use eventually force them into exploitation as a way to support their use, or do they turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with the shame and distress of being exploited? Did they get kicked out or run away, then find themselves an easy target for exploitation on the street? Or were they exploited at home, and ran away to escape? This chapter draws on data from 762 younger street-involved youth (age 12-18 years) from the 2006 BC Street Youth Survey, which was conducted in 9 large and small cities throughout British Columbia from October to December of that year. The survey includes questions about the age of first trading sex for money, drugs, or other consideration; the age of first running away, or being kicked out; the age of first becoming street involved, and the age of first alcohol and marijuana use. Thus, we have been able to document the most common patterns in the timing of risk behaviours and exploitation among street-involved boys and girls in BC, including an important glimpse into opportunities to intervene early.

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Gaetz, Stephen
O’Grady, Bill
Buccieri, Kristy
Karabanow, Jeff
Marsolais, Allyson
Toronto, ON, Canada
Publication Date: 
Canadian Observatory On Homelessness