Thursday, January 19, 2012

Exploitation A Reality Of Surburban Youth Work

As a youth worker, my job entails the opportunity to intersect into the lives of young people wherever they happen to be. I spend time on the streets, in the parks, the alleys, the movie theaters, schools and local coffee shops.  


Through this work I have encountered many things that I wish that I could unsee.  This includes but is not limited to drug deals, suicide attempts, violent exchanges and the issue of human trafficking.


So I have made it my responsability to serve as an advocate for the many young people I know personally that have struggled through the terrible realities of being sexually exploited, but have thought it was just a normal part of life.


Exploitation is the stepping stone toward trafficking and it happens all the time.  In doing some research the past few years I have come torecognize that the issue is even more widespread than I once thought.  This isn't just a big city issue either, it is happening in my neighborhood with the kids I work with every day.  This isn't about stats, it is about the faces of the kids I know personally.


I have talked with kids that think it is normal to send a nude picture to a person that says they like you

I have talked with kids that have been date raped

I have talked with kids that been abused 

I have talked with kids who have traded sex for a place to stay or food to eat

I have talked with kids who have had pictures of themselves in compromising situations distributed Round the school

I have talked with kids that have been recruited into the sex trade by someone they thought was their boyfriend.

and on and on it goes...


For this reason I have partnered with Miss Canada 2011, Tara Teng, and a local political activist, Todd Hauptman, to create a community task force taking on this issues.  On the evening that I am writing this we have organized an event called Wake Up. Which is aimed at community stakeholders such as mayors, school board officials, and Member of the province and Federal government.


You can read about the event in from our local news paper here: 


http://www.langleytimes.com/community/137449258.html


I am planning on making bold statements of action at this event and if you are reading this before the event transpires or after the fact, please join me in prayer for the resolve to continue to do what is right.