"Diary entries" illustrate impact of sexual exploitation on children
Stop Sex with Kids Campaign launched today throughout Manitoba
For Immediate Release
November 13, 2008
Winnipeg - Child Find Manitoba, along with Manitoba Family Services and Housing, launched a provocative awareness and community action campaign today that highlights the impact of child sexual exploitation on its victims.
The Stop Sex with Kids campaign is aimed at adult Manitobans and will be carried out throughout the province. It includes a website, billboards, transit ads and television and radio PSA's. A key feature of the campaign is a series of statements in "Dear Diary" format that illustrates the situations and feelings of those victimized. The purpose of the campaign is twofold - to raise awareness about the issue and to address negative attitudes and beliefs that youth who are being abused through the sex trade are complicit and have a choice.
Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and desperation are common among those victimized by this type of abuse. Most child sexual exploitation in Manitoba takes place behind closed doors and involves an exchange of sex for food, a place to stay or drugs rather than money. These children - many in their early teens - are invisible to mainstream society.
"One of the things we are trying to do with this campaign is make the issue more visible and show the damage that this being done", states Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. "This crime takes place in urban and rural settings, and is often hidden behind closed doors rather than on the street."
The campaign is attempting to reach as much of the province as possible in order to educate Manitobans about the issue. Volunteers in over 30 locations will help to launch the campaign by handing out Stop Sex with Kids postcards to Manitobans during the lunch hour.
The Manitoba Strategy Responding to Sexually Exploited Children and Youth is a partner in the campaign. Gord Mackintosh, Minister of Family Services and Housing, states "The recent Summit on Child Sexual Exploitation prioritized the need for a strong public awareness campaign to enhance public denunciation of exploitation and educate about available resources. This is the first initiative that responds to the Summit's recommendation and establishes the basis for other forthcoming responses."
Individuals and groups are encouraged to visit www.stopsexwithkids.ca to learn about the issue and what can be done to help end child sexual exploitation. Suggestions include helping to educate others, becoming a mentor to a child at risk or joining one of several groups and organizations who address child sexual exploitation in their activities.
Visit www.stopsexwithkids.ca for more information.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ATTACHED.
CONTACT: Erin Madden, (204) 945-1866
B A C K G R O U N D E R
About the Campaign
The Stop Sex with Kids campaign has three phases of implementation. The first phase was implemented in 2006 and focused on general awareness. Phase II focuses on issues related to victimization, while Phase III will focus on offender-related issues.
About Child Find Manitoba
Child Find Manitoba assists with the location of missing children and delivers preventative programs. It is a program of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Visit www.childfind.mb.ca.
About the Manitoba Strategy on Sexually Exploited Youth
Launched in December 2002, the Manitoba Strategy is an integrated effort on the part of a number of government departments to raise awareness about the child sexual exploitation and develop/support effective intervention services for affected youth. It is spearheaded by Manitoba Family Services and Housing. Visit http://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/traciastrust/index.html.
Child Sexual Exploitation Defined
The exchange of sex for food, shelter, drugs/alcohol, money and/or approval. Sexual exploitation is not a lifestyle choice - it's child abuse.
Source: Sacred Lives: Canadian Aboriginal Children and Youth Speak Out About Sexual Exploitation, (Kingsley & Mark, 2000)
Important Numbers - Sexually Exploited Children
- Hundreds of children are being sexually exploited in Manitoba. Approximately 400 children and youth are being sexually exploited on the streets of Winnipeg alone every year. (Statistics only include visible sex trade exploitation).
- 80% of child sexual exploitation is hidden in "gang houses" and "trick pads".
- The average age that children reported their first experience of being exploited through the sex trade is 13 years old of age. Age range is from 8 years - 16 years old.
- 70% - 80% of adults involved in the sex trade were also first exploited before the age of 18.
- 85-90% of sexually exploited children/youth are female; 10-15% are male.
- 52% were sexually abused as children and 52% were physically abused as children.
- 81% of sexually exploited children were runaways.
- 33% of sexually exploited children were homeless.
- 72% of sexually exploited children were in the care of Child and Family Services.
- 93% of sexually exploited children had involvement with drugs and alcohol.
- 53% of sexually exploited children had used alcohol before the age of 12.
- On average, sexually exploited children try to escape or leave the sex trade seven times.
- 44% of sexually exploited children have been treated for an emotional problem by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counsellor.
- 38% of sexually exploited children have attempted suicide.
- 63% of sexually exploited children failed or repeated a grade in school. 77% were suspended from school.
- The average education level of sexually exploited children is grade 8.
- 70% - 80% of sexually exploited children in Manitoba are of Aboriginal descent.
Sources: Transition, Education, and Resources for Females (TERF) Mentor and Youth Program Evaluation Reports - 2005, 2006; Prostitutes and Other Women for Equal Rights (POWER) Evaluation Report, Campbell and Heinrich, 1995.