Earlier this week, the University of Minnesota released a study that examined the rate of sexual exploitation in high school students across our state. The full results can be found here. Using data collected by the tri-annual Minnesota Student Survey administered to 9th and 11th graders in 2019, we now know that at least 5,000 high school students across the state have traded sex for money, food, drugs, alcohol, a place to stay or something else. While certain populations reported higher rates, the study shows that sexual exploitation occurs regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, geographic location or background.
This is a groundbreaking study; Minnesota is the first state in the US to include a question on sexual exploitation in surveys of their student population. The information that has been collected will help our state and organizations to better serve our youth. It illustrates the importance of programs which focus on prevention, as well as in-school support for victims/survivors, and nationwide curriculum to educate, inform, to better arm and equip our students.