What is sexual exploitation?

Sexual exploitation is the sexual abuse of children and youth, and involves the exchange of a sexual act for money, drugs, food, shelter or any other consideration.

The Criminal Code defines a sexually exploited youth as under the age of 18, while the Child, Family and Community Service Act defines a sexually exploited youth as under the age of 19.

Other terms that are used to talk about sexual exploitation are “child prostitution” and “youth sex trade”. We use the terms “sexual exploitation” or “commercial sexual exploitation” to acknowledge that the use of children and youth for sexual acts is abuse and inherently exploitive.

Sexual exploitation of children and youth is a serious and growing concern around the world and Canada is not immune. The average age of entry into the sex trade is 13 years, and once entrenched, it is extremely difficult for an exploited person to leave.

Why do youth get involved?

Sexually exploited youth come from all types of backgrounds and families. There is no simple cause or explanation; many factors can lead to a young person being sexually exploited.

Sex trade recruitment

Recruitment into the sex trade is the process of bringing a youth into sex work under the control of a pimp. Sex work recruiters exploit youth by luring them into the sex trade through manipulation, coercion and power.

Due to advances in technology, sexual exploitation also happens without control from another person. There is an increase of children and youth sending out nude or partially nude pictures of themselves, or posting themselves for sale on social networking sites without understanding the emotional and physical implications and consequences.

Getting trapped

Many youth are transported from one town to another to keep them isolated and dependent on their pimp. This makes it very hard for them to leave the sex trade. Pimps use fear, violence, isolation, manipulation, and any other tool they can to stop youth from leaving the sex trade.

Who are the victims?

Both boys and girls are exploited sexually.

Where does it happen?

While reports of sexual exploitation of children and youth on the street have decreased in recent years, new reports suggest online sexual exploitation has exploded, and continues to change as multimedia grows.

The effect of large-scale events

Large-scale international events like world fairs and sporting events such as the Olympics or World Cup Soccer create a short-term increase in the demand for the sex trade and other forms of sexual exploitation in the host city and surrounding area.

Back to top