Out From the Shadows and Into the Light

Save the Children Canada has developed the Out From the Shadows and Into the Light project to provide us with the next step in the long journey of saving our children from this all too widespread form of exploitation.

Save the Children-Canada is a non-political, non-sectarian organization that has spent 80 years working for the rights of children. They work to battle abuse and exploitation of boys and girls worldwide. Save the Children Alliance has a successful record in helping children exit the sex trade in many countries around the world. They now find it necessary to bring this expertise to Canada and help our children at home.

The project Out From the Shadows and Into the Light is a follow-up to the extremely successful Out From the Shadows – International Summit of Sexually Exploited Youth that took place in Victoria BC in March 1998. Co-chaired by Senator Landon Pearson and Cherry Kingsley, the Summit brought together youth from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean with personal experience in the sex trade. Together they developed a Declaration and Agenda for Action that has begun to influence programs and policy nationally and internationally.

Effective strategies and solutions to complex issues require a commitment from many levels – from communities, from government, from individuals – and we believe that the voice of sexually exploited children and youth is key to the success of any strategy to address this issue.

Using a community development approach and beginning with the youth themselves the project is working with communities to develop their own home grown strategies. The project is designed to raise awareness of the issue across Canada, change public attitudes, increase the sensitivity of people who work with youth, provide direct assistance to agencies, and ultimately decrease the market for sex with children. Project plans include a national network of sexually exploited youth and the development of a long term strategic plan as well as the creation and distribution of a wide range of informational materials on the issue.

Canada’s leading advocate for sexually exploited youth, Cherry Kingsley, has joined Save the Children Canada to spearhead this project.

Cherry Kingsley is a survivor of child sexual exploitation and years of IV drug use. Through her own healing and reconnecting with her First Nations’ culture, Cherry has become a powerful factor in bringing about an awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth. She is able to address street people and statespersons equally effectively. Her commitment to end exploitation has brought her before audiences around the world. From the World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1996 sponsored by Unicef to the United Nations in New York to a national convention of Police Chiefs, Cherry rocks her listeners with stories of tragedy and torment as well as her vision for change.

National Youth Network of Sexually Exploited Youth

The Network links youth from across Canada who share the experience of being in the sex trade. These youth were chosen from those who attended the Out from the Shadows Summit, have expressed interest in the network and show leadership potential.

Additional youth were recruited from parts of Canada where Summit participants are no longer available. Network members are working on providing information, education, networking, capacity building, building partnerships, principles of participation, health education and prevention.

Consulting with sexually exploited aboriginal youth

Consultation with aboriginal youth brings young people in and from the sex trade together in order to accurately reflect their situation. The main objective is to investigate and recount, from their perspective, the phenomenon that leads this disenfranchised group of young people into the the sex trade. Another objective is to encourage aboriginal youth to find support and help in the development of a national sexually exploited youth network.

Save the Children will consult with twenty-one different communities across Canada. The intention is to identify seven urban, rural and reserve communities that are known to have a high percentage of aboriginal kids in the sex trade. As a result of working with and acquiring a better understanding of aboriginal sexually exploited youth we, sexually exploited youth, Save the Children and community agencies, can help facilitate the development of services, supports and existing mechanisms for these young people.

For information:
Save the Children
2177 West 42nd Avenue
Vancouver BC V6M 2B7
Toll Free: 1-800-325-6873
URL: www.savethechildren.ca
E-mail: info@sccwest.org