Network to raise awareness

People across B.C. have been working at raising awareness of the presence of sexual exploitation in their communities

People across B.C. have been working at raising awareness of the presence of sexual exploitation in their communities by addressing the many issues related to sexual exploitation and by developing programs for youth and community members.

Sexual exploitation does exist in our community; however, it may not be obvious to everyone. 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. There is no one solution to solving the problem of sexual exploitation, as youth face different situations in rural and urban communities, as well as within Aboriginal communities.

There are many models that communities are using to take action against sexual exploitation. One model that may suit Clearwater is the formation of a Community Action Network (CAN). A CAN brings people together to increase education and awareness about sexual exploitation and build comprehensive community based approaches to dealing with the issue. The CAN also will focus on developing and nurturing relationships among key stakeholders, mobilizing community participation and engaging the community in prevention strategies.

On May 18 community agencies were invited to attend a meeting to form a local Community Action Network. Currently, Clearwater’s CAN includes diverse representation of key stakeholders from RCMP, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Yellowhead Community Services, school and PAC representatives, Youth Outreach coordinator, Public Health and other members of the community.

On June 7 and 8 the Community Action Network will conduct a survey of students in grades 7-12 on “Youth Opinions on Relationship Boundaries.” The survey has been created to provide the team with factual information on how youth in Clearwater view sexual behaviours and relationship boundaries. Survey results will be used to help the network identify key issues and develop a plan of action to address them. Parents/guardians are encouraged to discuss the situations and issues presented on the survey with their son and/or daughter. A copy of the survey can be viewed on the Clearwater Senior Secondary website at http://clearsec.sd73.bc.ca/

Clearwater CAN is currently developing a website where youth, parents, community members and organizations can go to connect to information, resources and our own survey results related to the many issues around sexual exploitation. Our new website is www.clearwatercan.com

To learn more information about Clearwater CAN, please contact Patricia Persad, Clearwater Secondary School counsellor, Mike Bowden, Raft River Elementary principal, or Christine Parsons, Youth Outreach coordinator at Clearwater Secondary School.

– Submitted by Clearwater Community Action Network