Help for Victims of Sexual Exploitation

The use of money, drugs, food, shelter, or other means in exchange for sexual activity with children or youth under the age of 18 is called sexual exploitation. The sexual exploitation of children and youth is never considered prostitution nor consensual. There are many types of sexual crimes against children. If you have questions, call VictimLink BC for more information.

It is sexual exploitation when children or youth:

  • Are sexually abused by adults
  • Provide sex for a place to sleep, a meal or a ride
  • Trade sexual activities in exchange for money, drugs, alcohol, gifts, services, or other items
  • Are sexually trafficked
  • Are seduced, manipulated or coerced to take sexual pictures or videos of themselves (i.e., child pornography)

Some youth feel they are not being exploited, and that they have chosen to exchange sexual acts for resources. But sexual exploitation is not employment nor is it a chosen occupation; it is a form of sexual abuse.

Each person can have different reactions to victimization. Trauma is the term that describes both the physical and emotional reactions to a traumatic event. Common symptoms of trauma include reviewing parts of the crime over and over in one’s mind, mood swings, shaken sense of personal safety, heightened sense of smell or hearing, emotional detachment, disassociation, and so on. Symptoms associated with trauma may take several weeks to subside. If you’re concerned about your or another’s reactions to a traumatic event, see a doctor, your counsellor, or contact VictimLink BC.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual exploitation or any sexual crime and requires assistance, or if you just want to talk to someone, please call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808.

Steps to Take If a Child or Youth Needs Help

  • If you or a child or youth is in immediate danger or needs urgent medical attention, contact the police or ambulance services by calling 911 or the emergency number for your community.
  • If you believe you’re being sexually exploited please call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808.
  • Contact police if a child or youth has run away, is missing, or if you suspect they are being exploited.
  • Let the police know if you have heard about or seen a pimp or recruiter operating in your community.
  • If you know a child or youth who wants to leave an exploitative situation or if you believe that a young person is in need of protection, contact the Ministry for Children and Family Development by calling the Helpline for Children at 310-1234 (no area code required).
  • If you know an adult who is involved an exploitative relationship with a young person, do not remain silent. Call the police and report the offence.
  • Call the Youth Against Violence Line toll-free at 1-800-680-4264 to report sexual exploitation and obtain information on services available in your community. Encourage a child or youth victim to call the line for support and referral to services.
  • If you are a parent trying to get your child out of a sexually exploitative situation, don’t try to do it alone. Call VictimLink BC for support and information.
  • Report any sexually explicit images of youth to
  • If a child or youth seems disconnected or in trouble, reach out to him or her. Try to engage the young person in an open and non-judgmental discussion. Let them express their feelings and let them know that you are there to listen.
  • If you have questions about sexual exploitation or age of consent, please call VictimLink BC.

Child Protection

If anyone believes that a child needs protection, that person has a legal duty to report the matter to the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Child protection social workers respond to reports of children in need of protection. This can include taking immediate action with other service providers to ensure a young person’s safety, engaging a child’s family in a plan to keep the child safe and build family strengths, working with a youth to keep the youth safe and develop his or her capacity to live at home or independently; starting a child protection investigation, and seeking a court order (i.e., protective order or restraining order) to keep another person away from a child or youth.

You can report child protection matters through the Helpline for Children: 310-1234 (no area code required). TTD (Telephone Device for the Deaf): toll free 1-866-660-0505, after regular office hours: 1-800-663-9122

Reporting to the Police

You may wish to report the sexual exploitation of a child or youth to the police. Police can help young people who are in immediate danger by applying for a protective order to keep a person away from a child or youth, investigating crimes and arresting perpetrators, and providing information about other agencies. However, they cannot apprehend youth who are resistant to getting help.

If you’re not sure about reporting to the police, please call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808 to get more information about your options.

Other Resources


Cybertip is a national tip line for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children and youth. Cybertip is part of the National Centre for Child Protection, which also provides prevention and education resources. For more information go to the Cybertip website.

Canadian Centre for Child Protection

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection aims to reduce child victimization by providing programs and services through public awareness activities, a personal safety education program, a national tip-line to report online sexual abuse of children, and a program to help organizations prevent child sexual abuse. For more information, go to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection website.

National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre

The National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre provides a number of services to law enforcement including the ability to respond immediately to a child at risk, the coordination of investigative files, expertise in victim identification techniques, management of multi-jurisdictional cases, operationally relevant research, and training specific to online child sexual exploitation investigations. For more information, go to the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre website.

Children of the Street Society

The Children of the Street Society provides resources and support to parents or caregivers where children or youth are at risk of sexual exploitation or are being sexually exploited, works with families to develop an action plan or directs them to resources, and provides prevention education in schools and the community. For more information, call 604 777-7510 or toll free 1-877-551-6611 or visit the Children of the Street Society website.

Parents Together

Parents Together is a mutual help and support program for parents who want to develop new skills that will help to end the conflict in their homes. Participants learn effective strategies to improve relationships, develop positive communication skills, discover the importance of self-care, and regain control of their lives. For more information, go to the Parents Together website or call VictimLink BC to find a group nearest you.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual exploitation or any sexual crime and requires assistance, or if you just want to talk to someone, please call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808.