November 19, 2008 14:49 ET

On National Child Day, UNICEF Canada Calls for the Protection of Children and Adolescents From Sexual Exploitation

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2008) - Today, on National Child Day, UNICEF Canada is issuing a call for increased protection of children and adolescents from sexual exploitation.

Fueled by demand, and abetted by globalization, poverty, the sexualization of children in the media and inadequate child protection systems, the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents is on the rise everywhere, despite stronger laws and cooperative efforts with the private sector to address it. An exploited child is the result of a series of failures in the system of laws, services and social practices.

"UNICEF Canada is renewing its call for the immediate establishment of an independent, national Children's Commissioner, responsible for monitoring and addressing all children's rights issues in Canada, including sexual exploitation," says Nigel Fisher, President and CEO, UNICEF Canada. "We encourage all stakeholders - governments, private sector, and all citizens - to address the issue of sexual exploitation of children in Canada and abroad as a matter of urgency."

From November 25-28, UNICEF will join 3,000 delegates in Brazil, including 300 young people from all over the word and Canada, for the World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. Participants will search for a systemic and cooperative approach to end the sexual exploitation of children and youth. There is no single solution, but there is considerable evidence pointing to what needs to be done.

Business Unusual, a North American consultation organized by UNICEF Canada and the Child Welfare League of Canada, and hosted by the University of Winnipeg in September, served as a precursor to the upcoming World Congress. It explored the vital role corporations must play in the fight to end sexual exploitation of children and highlighted the need for strengthened corporate social responsibility programs complementing government's responsibility to create stronger protective systems.

Canada is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has made some progress towards meeting its obligations to children. Amendments to the Criminal Code addressing child-abuse imagery and trafficking, the introduction of legislation for the apprehension and prosecution of Canadians offending abroad, and the National Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet are important steps.

However, Canadian children remain vulnerable to sexual exploitation and there is a need for improved measures that close legislative gaps, improve enforcement, coordinate efforts across all sectors, and strengthen family and community capacities to protect children. UNICEF Canada calls on the Canadian Government to develop and implement a national strategy to combat all forms of abuse and sexual exploitation of children and youth, addressing its demand and supply, including prevention and services for young victims. UNICEF Canada also calls on the private sector to meet its social responsibilities to combat sexual exploitation of children.

"National Child Day is a day to celebrate our children and recognize their right to grow up healthy, happy and protected," says Fisher. "Join us in working towards a future National Child Day, where children everywhere, in Canada and around the world, can celebrate safely."


UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in 156 countries and territories to save, protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

About the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights for children - civil, cultural, economic, political and social. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention addressing their vulnerability, status and evolving capacities, and their rights to the fullest respect and dignity as human beings. Canada ratified the Convention in 1991.

Contact Information

  • UNICEF Canada
    Robert B. Lussier
    Acting Director of Communications
    (416) 482-4444, ext 8830 or Cell: (647) 282-7546
    Email: RLussier@unicef.ca