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March 5, 2012

Restoring the Honouring Circle: Taking a Stand Against Youth Sexual Exploitation

JIBC develops manual for people working with Aboriginal youth in rural and isolated communities

The Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) School of Community & Social Justice has developed an information, prevention, and capacity-building manual – Restoring the Honouring Circle: Taking a Stand Against Youth Sexual Exploitation  – for people working with Aboriginal youth in rural and isolated communities in BC.

The manual, authored by JIBC Research Associate Sarah Hunt and funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Ministry of Justice, is being released on the first day of Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness Week, March 5-11.

Information from a BC study published in 2000 indicated that Aboriginal youth were disproportionately involved in sexual exploitation. It estimated that between 14 and 60 percent of sexually exploited youth in some BC communities was Aboriginal, with residents in rural and isolated areas being significantly more vulnerable.

In 2005, Hunt and JIBC community-based researcher Natalie Clark conducted a groundbreaking study: Violence in the Lives of Sexually Exploited Youth and Adult Sex Workers in BC. The report provided a provincial overview of violence in the lives of sexually exploited youth and adult sex workers in BC; reviewed the informal and formal supports that are available; and identified how communities could improve their responses to this violence. In an immediate response to the study’s findings, the Sexual Exploitation Online Toolkit, providing links to resources, programs, and organizations that are working to address this issue, was launched by JIBC in 2006.  

The need for the manual was driven by the recognition that service providers and other adults providing support to youth, needed to improve their knowledge and capacity to address the issue of sexual exploitation.  According to Hunt, “I’ve worked with communities that were trying to deal with the impact of disclosures where the supports were not in place first, resulting in backlash against the victims and their families, as well as a lack of coordination among justice system representatives, service providers and family members.”

Rather than prescribing one approach for all rural Aboriginal communities, the manual identifies a number of culturally appropriate and sensitive global prevention strategies, as well as targeted initiatives, for people who want more information on how to integrate education about sexual exploitation into their work.

As one of the Community research participants revealed, “I think that a lot of the abuse that has occurred with me and my siblings and extended family was because there wasn’t that education piece. There wasn’t anyone creating awareness about it.”

“This new resource underscores our commitment to conducting applied research that promotes social change that helps keep our communities safe,” says JIBC President Jack McGee. “With this new resource in place, we hope that professionals and volunteers providing support to Aboriginal youth are better equipped to deal with sexual exploitation in their communities.”

Tags: School of Community & Social Justice

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Last updated January 14, 2015