“I’ve spent the last 20 years advocating for the rights and best interests of sexually exploited children and youth throughout B.C., across Canada and internationally, with organizations such as Covenant House Vancouver, the Urban Native Youth Association, the Justice Institute of B.C., Save the Children Canada and the Representative for Children and Youth.
I’ve heard hundreds of heartbreaking stories from sexually exploited children and youth. Without going into too much graphic detail, I know that infants are sexually assaulted and their images and videos are being traded like baseball cards on the Internet. I know that toddlers are most often sexually exploited by people that they know. I know that teens are exploited by social media, leaving a permanent record on line.
I know that this say difficult topic to discuss because we find it hard to admit that today, in all of our backyards, children and youth are being sexually exploited. The reality is we are not paying enough attention to this issue, and perpetrators are relying on our apathy and silence.
We can’t afford to be silent. In fact, we should be angered, disgusted and outraged that children are being subjected to such violence, trauma and maltreatment. Just this past week, we have learned about another beautiful young person whose life was taken way too soon. We can’t afford to be silent. In fact, we should be angered, disgusted and outraged that children are being subjected to such violence, trauma and maltreatment this past week.
Her name was Patricia Envoy. She was 19 years old. My deepest condolences to her family and friends. While the circumstances of her death have not been confirmed, we know that she was high risk. She was vulnerable, and she was sexually exploited.
It is so critical that we must take measures, all measures, to protect people like Patricia. Therefore, I am pleased to learn that March 14th to the 20th is declared as stop the sexual exploitation awareness week here in British Columbia.
It is my hope that we take swift and bold measures each and every day as parents, as elected officials and as a society to do everything in our power to protect our children and our youth from violence, harm and exploitation within a human rights framework. This means that we must report abuse and exploitation to the police and MCFD and hold people legally responsible when they do not.
I appreciate that I’m going over time, but it is my hope that we take all measures of action like these children are our sons and our daughters, because their safety is our responsibility.”