A public rally takes place Tuesday, March 6 in Abbotsford to raise awareness about the sexual exploitation of children and youth. (File photo)

A public rally takes place Tuesday, March 6 in Abbotsford to raise awareness about the sexual exploitation of children and youth. (File photo)

Rally draws awareness to sexual exploitation of children and youth

Abbotsford Community Action Team holds event on Tuesday, March 6

The Abbotsford Community Action Team (ACAT) host a public rally on Tuesday, March 6 to raise awareness of sexual exploitation of children and youth.

“We need to be aware that sexual exploitation of our youth is happening in our community, although it’s often hidden behind closed doors,” says Sheila Lum, chair of ACAT and an employee at the Youth Resource Centre of Abbotsford Community Services (ACS).

“It can affect any family regardless of culture, religion, or socioeconomic background. With awareness, we can reduce the numbers and put an end to the sexual exploitation of our youth.”

Anyone wishing to join the rally is invited to meet at the Abbotsford Community Services branch at 32700 George Ferguson Way.

The rally starts at 3:30 p.m. with remarks by Lum. Participants will march up Gladwin Road to South Fraser Way and conclude with refreshments back at the starting point.

Sexual exploitation is the exchange of a sexual act for money, drugs, food, shelter, transportation, love, acceptance or any other consideration.

Parents, teachers and friends are encouraged to be on the lookout for youth who have unexplained money, cellphones, or gifts. They may have bruises, become withdrawn or moody, or be protective about relationships.

While often seen as an issue for females only, males and transgendered youth are also sexually exploited.

While sexual exploitation can happen to anyone, there are several risk factors such as past abuse, lack of a sense of belonging, isolation and disconnection from supports, homelessness, dropping out of school, learning disorders, low self-esteem or being Aboriginal.

If you suspect someone is being sexually exploited, please contact the Abbotsford Police Department. The Youth Resource Centre at ACS can also provide support and resources.

For more information on the rally or ACAT, contact Sheila Lum at sheila.lum@abbotsfordcommunityservices.com or visit saferself.ca.