Children of the Street Society brings sexual exploitation of teens to the forefront
By Alex Stanton, Staff Writer
The Children of the Street Society unveiled its ad campaign for the first half of 2015, which attempts to balance the provocative with its sobering message.
The Coquitlam charity has been fighting against sexual exploitation of children since the mid 1990’s, and they state on their website that this year’s predator watch campaign, which began on January 12 and will run for the next several months, “focusses on cell phones as a tool that exploiters use to connect with youth.”
Each ad, as stated in the press release, “features three youth receiving texts from a predator who sounds like a friend. The text bubbles are seen lifting items of clothes such as a skirt, shirt, or tank top strap.”
They also intend to “reach out to parents and let them know that online predators aren’t always obvious about their intentions, and even intelligent kids can get caught off guard … Although many parents have restrictions around home computer use, cell phones are given to youth without any restrictions. These devices operate the same as a home computer, but often parents don’t see it that way.”
The executive director of the Children of the Street Society, Diane Sowden, speaking in a report by the Canadian Women’s Foundation titled From Heartbreaking to Groundbreaking, said, “You hold your child’s hand when they cross the street. You watch them like a hawk at the playground, you safely deliver them to school because you want to protect them and then you give them a mobile device or a computer and let them take it into their bedroom. You think they are safe and sound at home. Little do you know you’ve invited the bad guys into their bedroom.”
The Children of the Street Society is urging the public to discuss the dangers of sexual exploitation with youth, and are taking preventative measures themselves by opening programs for 30,000 children over 550 workshops across British Columbia, with the participants being between 11- and 18-years-old.
Sowden states in the press release that these programs are being requested for schools province-wide. “We continue to see an increase in requests from schools and community groups who are dealing with peer-to-peer exploitation such as ‘sexting’ or young people entering into unhealthy relationships with people they’ve met online,” said Sowden.
The three poster advertisements will be placed in transit area shelters while a YouTube video, titled Hooked, which follows the same basic premise as the print ads in video form, will be uploaded around the same time.