Posted on 23 November 2011
Ottawa (November 23, 2011) – The sexual exploitation of children is a deeply-rooted reality in too many Canadian homes, families and communities says a report by the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. Entitled The Sexual Exploitation of Children in Canada: the Need for National Action the report tabled in the Senate today calls on the Government of Canada to establish a national strategy to ensure that an adequate and consistent level of services is available to help children avoid, escape or heal from the harms of sexual exploitation.
“The sexual exploitation of children is arguably the most repugnant criminal activity anywhere and Canada is far from immune from this calamity,” says Senator Mobina Jaffer, Chair of the committee. “Our committee found that there is currently a limited understanding of the scope and extent of this phenomenon in our country. This is a national issue that requires a response and Canadians should be made more aware of the exacting toll of this unacceptable situation for our children and our communities.”
The committee believes that the Government of Canada should further support this endeavour with appropriate funding, relevant data banks and research to develop more efficient and effective programs and services. The committee also found that gender should be appropriately emphasised when examining the exploitation of children. Girls are particularly vulnerable and gender-targeted solutions need to be implemented.
Some of the required programs and services to address these issues call for local solutions and local people with sufficient resources to address the problems. This is particularly true for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. “The committee was told that nowhere is the devastation of sexual exploitation more pervasive than among Aboriginal children and youth. In some parts of the country, Aboriginal youth count for a majority of young people who are sexually exploited. This is particularly troubling considering that Aboriginal people make up only 5 per cent of the Canadian population,” says Senator Patrick Brazeau, Deputy Chair of the committee. “Poverty, drug usage, homelessness, family violence and racism are all contributing factors and compound the urgency of finding real solutions at the grassroots level.”
A critical component of any responsive action to child exploitation is the voice of children themselves. The needs of children and the protection of their interests must be of paramount consideration in the development of programs and policies, in public health and criminal justice among others. With the help of an independent, national Children’s Commissioner to provide oversight and assessment of the federal government’s leadership in this area, and to serve as a champion of children’s needs we can ensure that they are better protected from sexual exploitation, and that children’s sense of trust in us as a society is assured.
To find out more about the work of the committee and to view previously tabled reports, please visit: http://senate-senat.ca/ridr-e.asp
For further information:
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