Thursday, October 15, 1998

Your View

Diane Sowden would like to see long-term treatment programs and initiatives to help stop sexual exploitation of children.  Les Bazso - The Province

'We need to take action'

Byron Sheardown's recent letter suggesting brothels and heroin programs does not offer any solutions for the "Kiddie Stroll" area in the downtown east side.

Why is it called Kiddie Stroll? Is it a stroll where someone under the age of 18 is being bought for sex?

That is the sexual exploitation of children. It is sexual abuse.

There have been many studies on this issue and there are solutions--if there is a public will.

First, attitudes must change. Every community needs to take responsibility and we all need to refuse to tolerate abuse of children by adults.

We need to stop talking and take action.

More than 80 per cent of adults in the sex trade started before their 18th birthday and the average age of entry into the sex trade is 14.

This should tell adults that we need to do something to decrease the number of children and youth being sexually exploited.

We need to: Develop more prevention and education programs; enforce laws against pimps and johns; raise the age of sexual consent to 16 from 14; be more persistent with child protection through the ministry for children and families; provide more youth detox and safe houses and develop secure care facilities to provide long-term residential treatment.

As Sheardown states, his "customers are tired of seeing strung out prostitutes, stepping on condoms, or being approached by violent-looking pimps."

But so are the parents of these children who are filled with frustration and anger and feel powerless to protect them from harm.

We live with waiting for the next crisis that will hit our family, or that final call -- a drug overdose.

But this doesn't compare to the fear, shame, rejection and isolation that our daighters fell every day on Kiddie Stroll.

We can do nothing. We can wait until they become the magic age of 19 and move from a sexually exploited youth to an adult prostitute.

Will society feel better because now we can say it has become a lifestyle, at which time we can direct them to the nearest red-light district?

Is that how we solve the problem?

Diane Sowden, COQUITLAM

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Created: October 15, 1998
Last modified: October 17, 1998

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