Sexual exploitation is the sexual abuse of children and youth, and involves the exchange of a sexual act for money, drugs, food, shelter, transportation, love, acceptance or any other consideration. The Criminal Code of Canada 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.
The sexual exploitation of children and youth is a growing concern for communities throughout British Columbia. Due to the underground nature of the crime, it is impossible to accurately count the number of youth who are sexually exploited in British Columbia. Estimates state that between 100,000 - 300,000 children and youth are sexually exploited throughout North America at any given time.
Sexual exploitation occurs in neighbourhoods of every type, from rural towns, to the safety of the suburbs, to inner-city neighbourhoods. Sexual exploitation ranges from the sex trade, to youth exchanging a sexual act for a place to stay, to family supported exploitation. Sexual exploitation of children and youth is not a female specific issue. Males are also sexually exploited.
Some examples of sexual exploitation include:
- Street level sex trade
- Indoor venues (brothels, massage parlours)
- Child sexual abuse images (child pornography)
- Survival sexual exploitation
- Family, peer, or relationship based exploitation
- Gang / organized crime supported exploitation
- Internet or phone based exploitation