How can you help prevent sexual exploitation?

Topics: National, Violence, Bullying and Abuse Prevention
November 01, 2012

How can you help prevent sexual exploitation?

As the country's leading nonprofit organization, the Canadian Red Cross responds to those in need with essential programs that can help improve their quality of life, but sometimes, the loudest cries for help can go unnoticed.

For those who are suffering due to sexual exploitation, the emotional, psychological and social damage caused by abuse can lead to long-term trauma and feelings of isolation. Young people and adults must be educated and aware of the complex issues surrounding child sexual exploitation. Prevention education is the key to stopping it. The Canadian Red Cross is a leader in offering violence and abuse prevention programs that help to educate children and youth about the risk, and how to get help.

The dangers of sexual exploitation
When someone uses their position of authority, or the trust a person has in them, to influence another person to take part in sexual activity, this is considered sexual exploitation. While exploitation can range from exchanging favours for profit to using sex to avoid being hurt, the devastating effects of this action can cause affected people great pain.

Young people are frequently susceptible to sexual exploitation. In addition to being against the law, the deeds that a person may be manipulated into doing are a violation of his or her personal rights and can cause physical harm and lasting emotional scars.

How do young people fall prey to exploitation?
Violence and sexual exploitation can have a tremendous impact on a person's life, and because young people are dependent socially and economically on others, they are frequently vulnerable to exploitation.

If young people have a history of neglect, low self-esteem, few friendships, a history of drug and alcohol abuse or a lack of education and job skills, they may be more vulnerable to sexual predators. Young people who have an unstable home life, frequently clash with parents or caregivers, don't speak English and have little knowledge of sexual exploitation and violence may look to a potential predator as someone they can trust, and may not realize until it's too late that they're being exploited.

Reaching out for help
Young people who have been or are being sexually exploited can have a very difficult time escaping from the abuse, yet with the right resources and support systems, which are made available through the Canadian Red Cross, they can gain the vital skills needed to reach out for help.

One of the first steps a young person in need of aid can take is to speak to a trusted adult, like a teacher, nurse, counsellor or doctor. If he or she fears that they may be in danger, contacting the police is the best way to prevent potential emergencies from occurring. Those who want assistance immediately can also call the Kids Help Phone for free at 1-800-668-6868. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this remarkable service can help youth suffering from violence and abuse gain the help they so desperately need.

Keeping kids safe online
Exploitation can happen online. While the internet and social networking sites can provide great opportunities for learning and socializing, it can also open up new ways to for people to hurt, and sexually exploit children and youth. Children who use a computer regularly are vulnerable to solicitations online from predators who may make unwanted requests for sexual activities, ask for personal information or send children explicit messages. However, parents who take the right steps can keep their kids safe online and prevent the risk for exploitation online.

By building guidelines for internet usage, encouraging children to talk about everything, monitoring the time children spend on computers and talking about the dangers that exist on the internet, parents can build an honest rapport with youngsters.

In communities across the country, the Canadian Red Cross' violence and abuse prevention programs have helped young people learn about all forms of abuse, their rights to be healthy, safe and control their own bodies, and how to get help. Adults and organizations learn about abuse, exploitation, harassment and violence, why and how they happen and how to create safer environments and protect children. To show your support for these and many other great services offered by the Red Cross, donate online or at your local Red Cross today!