- About CASEY
federal charity, initially established in Kelowna, B.C. in June, 1996, as a proactive response to the Attorney General's announcement of a Provincial Action Plan on Prostitution. CASEY was one of the first community action teams formed as a result of that announcement. CASEY's mandate is to prevent and ultimately eliminate the sexual exploitation of children and youth in Kelowna and other communities by raising public awareness, education and working cooperatively with enforcement and direct service agencies. Our focus is to involve youth in all of our operations and we have employed experiential youth in all of our programs.
CASEY is a grassroots community action team which draws its membership from
the the community at large, service providers, community agencies, RCMP and
government. One of our priorities is to increase youth involvement and input. Progress to date includes substantially decrease the exploitation of children and youth under the age of 18 in Kelowna. Ongoing activities are public education and awareness, media exposure, distributing fushcia ribbons and pins (representing sexually exploited youth)and holding annual "Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness Week" in March. It may be coincidental that the reduction in numbers of youth being sexually exploited in Kelowna fell dramatically after each Awareness Week, but we believe that our messages have been heard. The City of Kelowna proclaimed the first "Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness Week" in March, 1998. That first Awareness Week included hanging a banner over a "stroll", a public forum, a media campaign and other activities. The second Awareness Week, in March, 1999, was proclaimed locally, provincially and in some other communities around the province. During the second Awareness week, our television commercial, "Daughter", (funded by the National Crime Prevention Centre and which won two national awards and one regional), and radio commercials aired. A third Awareness Week was held in March, 2000, when the issue of sexual exploitation of youth was featured on the radio program, "Show Kids You Care", talk shows, news programs, etc. and CASEY held mall displays, youth art and writing contests, etc.
awareness campaigns have focused on humanizing the victims
of sexual exploitation, raising awareness that the sexual
exploitation of a person
under the age of 18 is a crime and under age 19 is child abuse. Kelowna's
Mayor obtained the support of most of the municipalities in B.C. and the provincial government to lobby the federal government to make legislation
more stringent and easier to enforce. CASEY's powerful school presentations
utilized the story of one of our employees, a former sexually exploited youth, as well as the Being Aware, Taking Care educational package and the evaluations were extremely positive. Through these presentations, youth in our community learned how to prevent this happening to them and their friends, what needs to be addressed in our community and what is being done.
CASEY started by developing an inventory of capacities in our community,
increasing cooperation, communication and collaboration between existing
agencies and services and then building on those capacities and strengthened
partnerships to address identified gaps. We agreed early on that our community development efforts would have to encompass the whole community but we had a specific agenda as to the stages of expanding influence. Initially, we focussed on educating ourselves so that all partners had the same information and were aware of what each other's mandates are so we were better able to target our referrals appropriately. This process identified several needs and gaps, which were shared and addressed. Next, we addressed the lack of public awareness in a well-planned public awarness and media campaign. Our all-inclusive focus has now expanded to other communities, where we are often requested to share our experiences. CASEY presented a workshop (by invitation) on raising public awareness at an international conference on sexually exploited youth, From Answers to Action, in May, 2000, in Edmonton, Alberta.
At the same time, we believe that it is essential to address this issue in its entirety. By working cooperatively with the various mandates, professionals, service providers, media, etc. in our community, we simultaneously address prevention, enforcement, service gaps, public awareness and the needs of youth and their families. We have increased cooperation among agencies in our community by maintaining a commitment to non-competition and cooperation.