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Member stories

Children of the Street Society

Gulf & Fraser Foundation funds helped Children of the Street Society create toolkits to educate and empower parents about the realities of childhood exploitation.

Children of the Street Society (the Society) was established in 1995 after a group of parents came together to fight for their children who were at-risk of being drawn into the Lower Mainland sex trade or who had lost a child to the streets. The Society works with youth, parents, schools and community and government groups to educate, advocate and bring awareness to the issue of childhood sexual exploitation that impacts countless children in our local communities.

While the Society works to support families, who have been impacted after their children have been exposed to the sex trade, a large part of their mandate is focused on education and prevention.

"If we can empower and prevent just one child from being exploited, we will consider it a success. Prevention and education are the keys to stopping this kind of predatory behavior."

Diane Sowden, Executive Director, Children of the Street Society (1995–2019)

The Society runs a number of workshops aimed at helping children and young adults understand what sexual exploitation looks like and how to identify and recognize it for what it is. These workshops, held at schools throughout the Lower Mainland, reach over 25,000 children per year. Each year the Society helps an average of 50 children and families who have already been affected by sexual exploitation and the Society ensures they get the support and referral services they need to deal with this devastating crime.

Having received a grant from the Gulf & Fraser Foundation, the Society was able to produce a “Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children & Youth in Canada” toolkit to distribute at each school they visit. The toolkits are used by educators and can be used to help school parents dealing with a child who has been sexually exploited. The toolkits help adults understand all of the ways that sexual exploitation can present itself in today’s world – including information about warning signs to look for, predatory behavior using technology and how parents can help support and work with their children if they are exploited. 

"We are very thankful to the Gulf & Fraser Foundation for giving us the funds necessary to complete this very important initiative. These toolkits are invaluable resources for parents and serve as a starting point for many families in having difficult, but necessary, conversations about the reality of sexual exploitation."

Diane Sowden, Executive Director, Children of the Street Society (1995–2019)

Updated August 2019: From 1995 to 2019, Children of the Street Society worked to prevent the sexual exploitation and human trafficking (forced prostitution) of children and youth in BC. In June 2019, Children of the Street Society merged with PLEA Community Services Society of BC – a government agency that will continue Sowden’s mission to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

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