Covenant House Toronto launches Let’s Talk About Sex Trafficking Campaign: Empowering Canadians To Start The Conversation

Toronto, ON February 22, 2024 – Today, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Covenant House Toronto launches Let’s Talk About Sex Trafficking, a campaign to spark dialogue and empower and equip parents, caregivers and teens with tools to help prevent sex trafficking in Canada.

Awareness, education and dialogue are essential to help keep young people safe and prevent sex trafficking.  Yet, a new survey reveals that only about a quarter (28 per cent) of Canadians are familiar with sex trafficking in Canada.

Sex trafficking is one of Canada’s most lucrative and misunderstood crimes. It is happening in our communities, to our children and often right in front of us. Parents and caregivers can play a pivotal role in educating their children about sex trafficking.

“Most people don’t believe that sex trafficking can happen to someone they know. When we believe this, we’re distancing ourselves from the issue and from the very real risk factors facing our children on a daily basis,” says Maria, a therapist who works with survivors of trafficking at Covenant House. “The truth is that in Canada 90 per cent of sex trafficking victims come from Canada. The crime has become more technologically advanced, with traffickers using dating apps, social media and other online platforms to lure their victims.”

“We’re seeing our local case numbers increase and more young people being lured online into sex trafficking today,” said Detective Constable David Oh, with Toronto Police Services Human Trafficking Enforcement Unit.  “Girls as young as 13 are being lured online and often by someone they know. There’s a clear need in communities near and far to educate more people about this issue early and how it happens, so we can protect people who are being targeted by traffickers and help keep young people safe.”

The new research conducted by Leger on behalf of Covenant House Toronto revealed that 84 per cent of Canadians surveyed believe that youth in their communities are at some level of risk of being lured into sex trafficking through a relationship, social media or online platforms.  At the same time, nearly half (47 per cent) are not confident that they could recognize the warning signs of someone being lured into sex trafficking.

Vanessa Jass, a trafficking survivor from Halifax, was lured into trafficking when she was only 17. Finding herself with no place to stay, she was quickly befriended by two girls. “They offered to let me stay with them for free, but I was quickly told I needed to earn my keep and eventually trafficked along the TransCanada Highway as far west as Winnipeg before I managed to escape. I was a geeky little child, I was very naïve and right away, those traffickers recognized my needs and met them,” says Jass, a lawyer, mother and survivor of sex trafficking. 

“We know from our research that many parents and caregivers are not talking to their children about this issue because they feel overwhelmed or don’t know where to begin,” says Josie do Rego, Chief Communications Officer of Covenant House Toronto. “Research shows only about a third of teens claim their parents are very aware of their social media activity. We created Let’s Talk About Sex Trafficking to get Canadians to learn more about sex trafficking and to provide parents and caregivers with resources to help educate themselves and their children.”

Videos, information and resources about this issue and what caregivers can do to protect their children were created with the support of survivors and are available on the Let’s Talk About Sex Trafficking webpage: Traffick Stop, Covenant House Toronto’s anti-trafficking resource hub also includes information and tools for caregivers, service providers, educators, and the hospitality industry:


About Covenant House Toronto

Covenant House helps youth ignite their potential and reclaim their lives. As Canada’s largest agency serving youth who are homeless, trafficked or at risk, we offer the widest range of services to hundreds of young people every day.

Covenant House is a national leader providing direct support to hundreds of survivors of sex trafficking. Our comprehensive anti-trafficking plan includes prevention and awareness, front line services and knowledge sharing.  Since 2017, the agency has delivered prevention education to help students and teachers recognize the warning signs and to prevent this crime from occurring in the first place. Over the last seven years, Covenant House has taught thousands of students about sex trafficking and offered hotel industry training to help prevent this crime.

For more information contact:

Sarah Boesveld
Manager, Public Relations & Advocacy
Cell: 647-678-4372