Youth welfare organization says it needs more government help to fight sexual exploitation
Youth support organization Thrive is calling on the Newfoundland and Labrador government to allocate more funding to combat youth sexual exploitation in the province.
In a new report released Tuesday by its Coalition Against Youth Sexual Exploitation, the organization examined the prevalence of youth sexual exploitation in the province and outlined its concerns.
“Particularly with community-based agencies working locally with young people in their communities, there is a recognition that this is an important issue,” said Thrive CEO Angela Crockwell.
“We have a lot to do in this province on this issue.”
The report compiles information from interviews with service providers and those who have experienced exploitation, as well as online surveys for the general public and those working with young people.
Crockwell said she would like the provincial government to take a lead in addressing the issue and also increase funding for frontline groups.
“We specifically ask them to create an interdepartmental committee that also includes people with lived experience, indigenous communities, racialized communities, people with disabilities, rural and remote areas and has really broad representation and creates some sort of mandate and strategy to move forward,” she said.
“At the moment there really isn’t any at the provincial level and communities are really trying to do their best but we’re stretched as thin as you can imagine.”
Some respondents indicated that a culture of silence is one of the biggest issues when dealing with youth sexual exploitation, as some people are afraid to talk about an experience or even discuss the issue.
“We have heard repeatedly of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ mentality and widespread denial of the exploitation of young people in our province,” she said.
“I hope this report will bring about meaningful change and we begin to have open and honest conversations about the sexual exploitation that is taking place across our province.”
Some respondents indicated that there is a lack of resources in their communities to deal with exploitation cases.
“People spoke about the lack of support available to them in times of need, particularly in rural and remote communities,” Crockwell said.
The CASEY report makes recommendations for government, including additional funding, training and human resources, and long-term poverty reduction measures.
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