A new study by the Urban Institute, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, has found that many poor teens in America will do anything they can in order to get food.
The Urban Institute found in all 10 markets that it examined, poor girls were seen to be “selling their body” or performing “sex for money” to satisfy their hunger. Boys, on the other hand, would often go as far as selling drugs or stealing to fulfill their need for food.
Despite a number of welfare measures implemented over the past few decades, this study proves that many teens find themselves desperate for basic necessities.
Susan Popkin, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, noted, “I’ve been doing research in low-income communities for a long time, and I’ve written extensively about the experiences of women in high poverty communities and the risk of sexual exploitation, but this was new.”
Popkin further called the revelations, “shocking to me,” adding that “it’s a situation I think is just getting worse over time.”
The study took place in the form of focus groups with youth ages 13 to 18 in various impoverished areas in the U.S., with one of the groups in each region being male and the other female.
The 10 communities examined in the study included big cities, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., along with smaller communities in rural North Carolina and eastern Oregon.
The main takeaway from the study is that poor youth will often do whatever they can to be able to not feel hungry, regardless of whether it’s legal or ethical.
Overall, more than 6.8 million 10 to 17-year-olds in the U.S. are food insecure. More on individual stories can be read here.