News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

March 6, 2020

MANITOBA SUPPORTS EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS, ONLINE AWARENESS CAMPAIGN TO ADDRESS CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

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Manitoba Proclaims March 9 to 15 as Stop Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Week: Ministers

The Manitoba government is investing more than $100,000 with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) to help protect children and youth from the dangers of online sexual exploitation, Families Minister Heather Stefanson and Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

“Our government is committed to keeping children safe, but as technology changes and evolves, so do the risks,” said Stefanson, who signed a proclamation today to designate March 9 to 15 as Stop Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Week in Manitoba.  “C3P is a recognized expert in talking to parents, young people and educators about important issues like digital safety and online exploitation.  We are happy to partner with them on campaigns to help keep us all better informed and ready to intervene when it is needed.”

Every year, the Manitoba government invests millions of dollars to address sexual exploitation through Tracia’s Trust, the province’s strategy to deal with this important issue.  Today, the ministers announced an additional $83,000 to C3P to develop and launch an online campaign through Cybertip.ca this spring to help parents of tweens, aged nine to 12, better understand the risks associated with livestreaming, gaming platforms and live chat features.  Lessons will also be developed for teachers to share with students on how to identify and respond to unsafe situations online.  Supporting information will be shared through C3P’s Kids in the Know newsletter. 

Another $20,000 has been invested by the province through the Federal Proceeds of Crime Fund to expand educational resources related to preventing sexual exploitation and supporting online safety into two additional school divisions in Winnipeg.

“Our partnership will help ensure more Manitoba youth, parents and educators have the knowledge and tools to be safe online and in their daily lives,” said Cullen.  “As the potential risks related to exploitation, cyberbullying and other types of victimization evolve, it is essential to have accurate and timely information.  We are proud to partner with C3P, a recognized national leader, to help keep kids safe.”

Funding will provide free access to the Commit to Kids program at all 57 schools in the Seine River and River East Transcona school divisions.  It provides strategies, policies and a step-by-step plan for reducing the risk of child sexual abuse.  Teachers will also have access to the Kids in the Know program, which is used to help educate students about personal safety strategies that build resilience and reduce their likelihood of victimization. 

“Through Cybertip.ca, we’re seeing kids as young as eight years old being targeted by adults through livestreaming or gaming apps and websites,” said Signy Arnason, associate executive director, C3P.  “This initiative is about informing parents/teachers on the emerging risks and providing guidance on how to have ongoing, age-appropriate online safety conversations with children.”

There are more than 20,000 students in both school divisions.  They and their families will receive educational, age-appropriate resources dealing with issues such as cyberbullying, online safety, abuse prevention, exploitation and healthy relationships.  Community organizations will receive posters, cards and other materials to raise public awareness of the issues related to the victimization of children.  All materials are available in English and French.

Every year, the Manitoba government invests about $15 million in initiatives related to sexual exploitation through Tracia’s Trust, including:
•    Restoring the Sacred, a culturally based peer mentorship program for Indigenous people aged 14 to 21 who are relocating to Winnipeg to continue their education;
•    educational opportunities for people with lived experience in sexual exploitation to achieve a post-secondary certificate or diploma in child and youth care;
•    regional teams located throughout Manitoba to increase public awareness on the issue of sexual exploitation;
•    specialized placement resources for sexually exploited youth; and
•    youth shelter resources.

Through Tracia’s Trust, the province also operates StreetReach, a Winnipeg-based collaborative team that helps identify children and youth at risk of being victimized in the sex trade, and returns them to a place of safety.

The online campaign led by C3P builds on more than $25 million the government has invested in other recent mental health initiatives that support children and youth, including:
•    the launch of Granny’s House, a one-year pilot project to provide short-term, culturally safe and community-led care to children and families;
•    a recruitment of new community helpers;
•    a collaboration between StreetReach Winnipeg and the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre; and
•    an expansion of the distribution of Thrival Kits.

For more information on how the Manitoba government works with a broad range of partners to address sexual exploitation and provide support to those at risk, visit www.gov.mb.ca/fs/traciastrust/index.html.

For more information on the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, visit www.protectchildren.ca.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION ATTACHED




Backgrounder
Background Information - https://www.gov.mb.ca/asset_library/en/newslinks/2020/03/BG-Child_Exploitation_Proclamation-FAM-JS.pdf