The University of British Columbia has a media release, but by far the best source of information so far is this Vancouver Sun article. First, it gives us a definition of what was meant by “sexual abuse”:
The B.C. Adolescent Health Survey asked respondents if they had been forced to have sex by either an adult or a youth (or both) and defined sexual abuse as: “Sexual abuse is when anyone (including a family member) touches you in a place you did not want to be touched or does something to you sexually which you did not want,” explained study co-author and nursing professor Elizabeth Saewyc.
That’s a pretty broad definition, and could conceivably include things like unwanted hugs, etc. Also, it states that the offenders could be anyone the student knows, not just home-stay “parents” but others such as other students or home-stay participants.
The study studied three groups of students who were of East Asian heritage:
1. students living in B.C. without their parents (home-stays)
2. immigrant students living with their parents
3. Canadian-born students who also live with their parents
Are any of these home-stay kids living with relatives? It seems so.
The Vancouver school board had 730 international students between the ages of 13 and 19 last year, says the head of the board’s international education program, Barbara Onstad. Most students stay with relatives, but between 15 and 20 per cent use the homestay program managed through Langara.
Another tid-bit of information:
Fifty-four per cent of male homestay students spent more than four hours a day on the computer for recreation compared to 30 per cent and 35 per cent of immigrant and Canadian students living with their parents.
Way to break the Starcraft-playing, four-eyed computer geek stereotype, boys. More proof that sending these kids to Canada for the sake of “a better education” is not working out as planned by the parents.
And how much do the students pay?
Foreign students pay about $12,000 a year in tuition and another $7,000 for room and board.
Most disturbing of all is the fact that some of these young women may be getting into (being forced into?) prostitution.
In May, a 17-year-old female homestay student from China was picked up during a raid on a bawdy house in downtown Vancouver. A 44-year-old Vancouver man, Xiao Jin Zhao, was charged with several prostitution-related offences including procuring women to sell sex.
(source, Hat Tip to Seth Gecko)
Gusts of Popular Feeling posted a link to a Canadian article that has more information. First of all, it tell us more about who takes in these kids and why.
The industry, however, is largely unregulated and home-stay “parents” who take fees from foreign students “are considered custodians, not legal guardians, and have no legal obligation to nurture youth,” the University of British Columbia and non-profit McCreary Centre Society researchers noted in calling for government oversight of the sector.
[ snip ]
“Shouldn?t we also have systems for protecting foreign teens when they are here for years without their parents?”
We also find out more about who these students are …
The research was based on information collected from more than 3,000 foreign home-stay students, among 30,500 students surveyed in grades seven to 12 throughout British Columbia in 2003.
And what they’re doing (or not doing) in Canada.
[H]ome-stay students were also far less likely than other students to be involved in extracurricular activities and just over half had skipped school in the month before the survey, while only a quarter of their peers did.
So much for the notion of sending these kids abroad for the sake of a better education.
Each year, lots of young people from Korea (and other East Asian countries) go to Canada to
hang out pretend to study escape their parents study English, but there is a dark cloud, due to the fact that there is little-to-no oversight of the homestay programs.
Each year, thousands of East Asian students, mostly from Korea, China and Japan, stream to Canada to study English or attend high school through homestay programs.
Under the scheme, families pay for their children to study there while living with families who provide room and board.
But the industry ― worth an estimated $60 million annually in British Columbia alone ― has no oversight or screening processes, the study said.
[ snip ]
It found that 23 percent of female respondents from East Asian countries reported having been sexually abused, compared to eight percent of Canadian-born girls.
Among males and females, 25 percent of the homestay students were sexually active, more than twice the ratio of their Canadian counterparts.
They were also two to six times more likely to use cocaine compared to other students their age.
All three of these problems seem to come out a lack of supervision. Another factor could be that in Korea, these students and their schedules are strictly controlled by their parents, especially their mothers. After they arrive in Canada, they “overdose” on this new freedom (freedom provided both by Canada’s more relaxed atmosphere and the homestay program’s lack of oversight). The relatively-high rates of sexual abuse could be traced back the naivity that South Koreans had until the horrible Na-young case. Korean parents don’t teach their kids to be careful (not just of strangers, but not to run across a street without looking, etc. It’s not surprising, since the parents themselves are often reckless.*) My Korean language teacher told us that when she was in elementary school, she would walk to school alone, a half-hour trip. Nowadays, some parents walk their kids to school, but not all. I still see a lot of young students walking to school either alone or with a friend of similar age.
* At one of KOTESOL’s annual conferences, Dr. John Linton described Koreans as “lacking the danger gene.”