It is unthinkable that a young child, right now, is alone, defenseless and without the guidance in almost every area of Canada. A staggering 20% of homeless people are children that are on average 13 to 24 years old. 40% of those children were younger than 13 years old when they became homeless.
Most children that are classified as homeless, have left abusive and traumatic home life behind. As well as the bullying and struggles in their school life. Some can’t find acceptance in their homes because of the lack of understanding of their gender and some may be impoverished and outgrown the child welfare system. These grouping of children, like LGBTQ+, Aboriginal and African American youths make up between 25-40 % of youth homelessness.
Statistics show that the majority of children on the streets are male. The horror of this reality is that many females (and certainly some males) are taken from the streets as sex workers. It is shocking that 93% of sex trafficking victims come from this country and not from other less developed countries, as some people may thing.
Sex trafficking is a modern form of slavery. These young people work in, and are hauled from, the big cities to other areas to work and make the traffickers profits. Organizations like Covenant House in Toronto, Ontario, have made it their mission and focus to implement programs like Urban Response Model, that works to prevent and enhance victim services. As many of these victims suffer from a form of Stockholm Syndrome and police have a hard time proving a person’s age, the legal system is attempting to come up with better ways to help prosecute traffickers. In one court case, it was the training of a hotel manager, who was taught at a hotel conference to look out for human traffickers. There was a checklist to follow. A group of youths caught her attention and checked every box on the list. She called the police and charges were laid and there was a conviction.
The struggles to survive on the streets as a child are only made harder by the grim future ahead. With the lack of education, job experience, and life skills, any hope for stability and independent living seems impossible. As many of these children presented learning challenges at school, the thought of landing a job is not considered. Without encouragement and support from parents, family or a caring individual, there is very little self-esteem to help them succeed.
There are many organizations in cities and towns to help combat child poverty. Many rely on government grants and incentives. With provincial and federal cut backs, these children, are once again at risk.
Click the link below to see a list of children’s organizations from the Canadian Children’s Rights Council
Source of article: Covenant House Blog