WATCH: New program aims to stem teen runaways, sexual exploitation
Your child may be getting a visit at school soon from the Missing Children's Network, which has launched a new program aimed at stopping kids from becoming victims of sexual abuse.
It's called SHINE (Self-esteem, Healthy relationships, Independence, No means no, and Empowerment), and it is set to tour schools, speaking to children aged 10 to 13, and try to impress upon them that one of the dangers of running away from home is the threat of sexual exploitation.
There will be seminars to introduce concepts such as consent, the right to say no and recognizing and dealing with inappropriate behavior.
The program was introduced on Wednesday at Collège Notre-Dame in Cote-des-Neiges.
"We are really, really proud of this initiative because for the first time in the history of the Missing Children's Network, a prevention program will be brought all throughout Quebec," says the Network's Pina Arcamone. "So we have anglophone and francophone students that will be empowered with the knowledge and the tools necessary to avoid becoming victims of exploitation."
Among those who turned up at Collège Notre-Dame was Cote-des-Neiges-NDG borough mayor Sue Montgomery, who told the story of how she wanted to run away at the age of five after being the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a family member.
Also on hand was Eric Hauptmann, who related how he felt when his teenaged daughter ran away from a group home in Laval in 2016.
"As a parent you feel that you've failed because you say 'how come I let my daughter get away from our house and how come she put herself in danger? What could I have done as a father to protect her?' Because as a parent our main goal is to protect our children so when that happens it's the worst nightmare that anybody could go through," said Hauptman.
The Network also introduced actress Ludivine Reding as an ambassador for the program. Reding is the star of the TV show Fugueuse (Runaway), a graphic tale of a 16-year-old girl who runs away with a manipulative man and has her gang-raped. It's broadcast on the TVA network.