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Parent Help Sheet

Globally, young boys and girls are among those who have fallen victim to human trafficking. Canada is no exception. Our youth have also fallen victim to human trafficking and the trend is continuing. Police investigations have shown our youth have been primarily coerced or forced into prostitution. Forced prostitution is a form of human trafficking.

In order to help parents stay vigilant in keeping their children safe, the following child attitudes, behaviors and/or physical signs of abuse could be indicators that your child is being groomed for or already involved in forced prostitution.

Children could be at risk for involvement in forced prostitution if they demonstrate a number of the following attitudes, behaviours and/or signs of physical abuse:

Attitudes:

  • Withdraws from family and/or friends;
  • secretive and reserved with information about where they have been or with whom;
  • extreme mood swings ranging from withdrawn to angry outbursts to very happy;
  • angry, confrontational or abusive; and
  • protective of a new boyfriend/girlfriend or friend and provides little information when asked about the relationship.

Potential Behavioural Indicators:

  • Comes home later than usual for unexplained reasons;
  • binge eats or eats less, resulting in weight loss;
  • hangs around with new and different group of friends;
  • wears expensive clothing and/or jewelry he/she could not possibly afford to buy;
  • carries a cell phone or pager using blocked or private phone numbers;
  • carries condoms or other sexual aids; and
  • is secretive about Internet sites and contacts.

Physical Abuse Indicators:

  • Unexplained bruises, cuts and or broken bones;
  • black eye(s);
  • tattooing or branding symbols, particularly names tattooed on neck, arms and/or legs; and
  • cigarette burns on body.

Children who are trafficked for sexual exploitation in Canada are often exploited by pimps. A pimp is a person who makes money off a prostitute's earnings. Pimps are usually male, but can also be female, in which case they are referred to as "madams". They both often use violence and threats to control their victims. This may include sexual assaults, threats of violence, and/or physical abuse such as beating and tattooing/branding.

Often pimps will purport themselves as a loving boyfriend and shower their "girlfriends" with expensive gifts and romantic or expensive dates. This may include expensive jewelry, clothing, eating out at expensive restaurants, etc. Pimps will often give their "girlfriends" lots of compliments about their appearance and make them feel very comfortable. Pimps build trust with their victims by romancing and seducing them. This is all part of the recruitment and grooming stage, prior to forcing their victims into prostitution.

Keep in mind that the above listed indicators do not necessarily mean that your child is a victim of forced prostitution/human trafficking. Our help sheet is simply reminding parents that forced prostitution of young girls/boys by pimps/madams is a form of human trafficking in Canada.

If you need further assistance or have any questions or concerns please refer to the RCMP Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre (HTNCC) webpage, contact the RCMP HTNCC directly by telephone at 1-855-850-4640, or contact your local police.