With over 35 years of experience accompanying and supporting families of missing children, our organization put into use its knowledge in prevention in order to protect children and teens from unspeakable tragedies. Noting that the vast majority of juvenile disappearances in Quebec consists of runaways fleeing and that almost a third of these teens become victims of sexual exploitation, the Missing Children’s Network set to develop a tailor-made program to counter this serious issue.
How do we broach a sensitive topic such as the prevention of sexual exploitation of youth without unduly frightening them? How can we raise awareness about this issue, and at the same time, encourage youth to make safe decisions?
At the Missing Children’s Network, our expertise has shown that it is possible to address all topics by adapting the vocabulary, approach and activities to the children’s ages and learning styles. Prevention is undoubtedly the best protection tool. This avenue was adopted to prevent youth from becoming victims of sexual exploitation.
Launched in the Fall of 2017, the SHINE program aims at preventing the sexual exploitation of minors by focusing on protective factors. SHINE is tailored for students in Cycles 2 & 3, and Secondary 1. By discussing assertiveness, independence, personal boundaries, gender stereotypes and healthy relationships, youths will develop the tools that will help them manage the pressures they face and learn to trust themselves.
While the SHINE workshop has enjoyed a very warm reception from schools and the community, we found that there was a need to start to address these topics at a younger age (Cycle 2). That’s why in 2021, we developed a new component of the program: SHINE Jr. workshop! Together, with the illustrator Amélie Martel we created three likeable characters: Jasmine, Gab and Raphaël. Through games and activities, we follow their storyline and made sure to adapt the vocabulary for the younger students.
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