Over 5,000 students sexually exploited, state study finds

A new study from the Minnesota Department of Health says at least 5,000 high school-age youth in the state have been sexually exploited. The data shows this exploitation is happening across the state, and boys and girls are almost evenly impacted.

The new question in the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey asked 9th and 11th graders whether they had traded sex for something of value, and almost one-and-a-half percent of students responded “yes.” These items of value could be food, shelter, money, drugs or alcohol.

The percentage is likely an underestimate, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota, because the question was answered by students who attended school the day the test was administered, and more students still could have been reluctant to answer honestly.

If you or someone you know has been sexually exploited, visit the Safe Harbor Minnesota webpage, or call the Day One Hotline at 1-866-223-1111.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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