Study reveals shock finding: 5,000 Minnesota teens have been paid for sex

The study is based on a survey of 9th and 11th graders.
Publish date:

A survey of 9th and 11th graders has revealed a shocking finding that thousands of Minnesota teenagers are being sexually exploited.

The Minnesota Department of Health added a new question to its 2019 Minnesota Student Survey, asking the high school students whether they had ever traded sex for something of value – namely money, food, drugs, alcohol, a place to stay, or something else of value.

Some 1.4 percent of respondents said they had, which University of Minnesota researchers estimate equates to approximately 5,000 teens in the state being exploited for sex.

The study also found that boys and girls are "almost evenly impacted."

In a statement, Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm called the study's results "alarming."

"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," she said of the exploited students.

Furthermore, Lauren Martin, a U of M associate professor and researcher on the project, said that the 5,000 figure may be an "underestimate" because some of the other students affected may have been reluctant to answer "yes" to the question.

It also didn't include students who were not at school on the day of the survey, with teens who miss school more likely to face sexual exploitation.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Those more likely to be involved in trading sex are children in juvenile correctional facilities, foster care and unstable housing, with the study finding students of all races and gender identities reporting exploitation.

"If we can identify these young people in school who are at risk of trading sex, 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,” said Barbara McMorris, associate professor at the University of Minnesota.

MDH notes that the state's Safe Harbor program, designed to identify and assist sex-trafficked and exploited people up to the age of 24, has served almost 1,300 individuals between April 2017 and March 2019.

Next Up

P.J. Fleck

Looks like the Gophers can put Fleck-to-Tennessee rumors to rest

Fleck is annually a hot commodity when coaching jobs open up.

Matt Dumba

Wild drop front end of back-to-back with Kings

The Wild lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

Andrelton Simmons / Minnesota Twins

Twins sign Andrelton Simmons to one-year deal

The former Angels shortstop is a four-time Gold Glove winner.

covid, vaccine

Minnesotans eligible for COVID shots only need to pre-register once for vaccine lottery

This is good news for people worried that they'd need to sign up every week.

police lights

2 people charged in separate Minneapolis homicides that happened hours apart

A woman is accused of stabbing a man in the chest over $60, while a man is accused of accidentally shooting a victim on the man's birthday.

House for sale

Despite pandemic, Twin Cities housing market set records in 2020

Sales were up 7.7% in 2020 compared to the year before.

Target store inside

Target unveils 'limited-edition' home, lifestyle collection with Levi Strauss

The new collection will be available in some stores and everyone online Feb. 28.

Tim Walz

Walz's $52.4 billion budget increases school spending, raises taxes on wealthy

He says the budget will help level the playing field and ensure all Minnesotans have a fair shot at economic recovery,

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 12.55.00 PM

Pictures from Minnesota GOP's Deadwood retreat show no masks, no distancing

The pictures were shared in Chair Jennifer Carnahan's latest email newsletter.

Alexus Norberg

Search for girl, 14, missing from St. Cloud

The teen left her home without her parents' permission.


Teen vaping use in Minnesota as risen 'sharply,' study finds

There's been a significant increase in 8th and 11th graders vaping.

Minnesota study finds marijuana helps patients during cancer treatment

A study examined the experience of more than 1,000 patients.

Screen Shot 2019-09-11 at 11.08.31 AM

Church to investigate claims Crookston bishop interfered in sex abuse probes

The Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced the investigation.

Officer attacked in scuffle with teens at MN high school

The incident happened during a "disturbance" at Braham Area High School

Former music teacher jailed for criminal sex with student

The 32 year old from New Hope had sexual relations with the boy 3 times.