A shocking study of Minnesota teens indicates that at least 5,000 high school-age children have been sexually exploited, having traded sex for money, food, drugs, alcohol, a place to stay or something else of value, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
The study, Trading Sex and Sexual Exploitation among high school students, was conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing, School of Social Work and Medical School.
The MDH reported that boys and girls are almost evenly impacted by exploitation all across the state. While only 1.4% of the students surveyed answered that they had been exploited for sex, this represents at least 5,000 high school-age children in the state—and we all know that the sexual abuse of even one child is too many.
“This alarming study shows there are many young people all across the state who need protection from sexual exploitation,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm according to ABC 5. “We must do more to connect with youth through our Safe Harbor program, educational programs and other efforts providing them with financial security and safe homes.”
Minnesota’s Safe Harbor program is a multi-agency statewide initiative designed to meet the needs of sex-trafficked and sexually exploited young people through age 24. The program works to help children with housing, education, and support from trusted adults to escape trafficking and exploitation.
The actual number of children in the state suffering from sexual exploitation could be even higher, suggests researcher Lauren Martin, due to possible student reluctance to answer truthfully. The survey also only counts those who attend school and those at school on a given day, while children who are missing school may be more likely to face sexual exploitation.
While children of all races and both genders experienced fairly equal rates of exploitation, the survey notes that “youth in juvenile correctional facilities, foster care, and unstable housing” all reported higher levels of sexual exploitation.
“If we can identify these young people in school who are at risk of trading sex,” said Barbara McMorris, associate professor at the University of Minnesota, “caring adults such as school nurses, social workers and teachers can intervene and help with services and support so that they can get out of that risky situation.”
Naturally, the problem of sexual exploitation of children extends across the world, not just within the state. As long as there is sin on this earth, there will be victims like this. Still, that doesn’t mean we sit on our hands and simply read an article about these poor children!
We must continue to be the hands and feet of Christ on this earth to minister to these children, especially those we may encounter in ministry outside abortion mills, and to reach them with resources and the gospel of freedom in Jesus!
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