Roughly 600 adults and children are sexually exploited each year in Edmonton and there are many more cases in the city that are not reported to authorities, say police.
And after proclaiming this week as Sexual Exploitation Awareness Week in Edmonton with city politicians and members of Safedmonton, police Chief Mike Boyd says it’s a growing issue in every city across Canada.
“This has become a global issue,” said Boyd. “We can never turn our back on this important issue and we will continue to find more and effective ways to get the job done in preventing the victimization.”
The majority of victims in sexual exploitation cases — which include child pornography, sexual assaults, and prostitution — are people who are the most vulnerable like children or people dealing with health issues or addictions, says Kate Quinn, chair of Safedmonton’s sexual exploitation awareness committee.
Quinn said the awareness week will give people a chance to learn how to encourage victims to get help, along with reporting “exploiters” to authorities.
“The more people we have who are being observant and willing to take action, the more we can decrease sexual exploitation in our communities,” said Quinn.
Boyd said criminals around the world are making $1 billion by exploiting children online, but groups need to work together to clamp down on the problem.
The committee will be hosting a panel discussion on sexual exploitation at the Stanley Milner Library at 7 p.m. Thursday.