About Leap21

Make the Leap! Imagine a world without sexual violence

Leap21 was created to support a 21st century growing awareness of sexual violence. The intended audience is anyone involved with the child welfare sector in Ontario.

  • young people in and leaving care in Ontario
  • foster parents and anyone who cares for and about youth in care
  • child protection workers

The toolkit is designed to encourage reflection, learning and dialogue. The information and resources  are provided to help strengthen support for young people and to encourage visitors to take action in creating a society that values, respects, supports and includes everyone. 

The toolkit focuses on sexual assault and sexual harassment of young people in and leaving care. It does not address sexual abuse of children or the unique needs of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Additional tools may be needed in situations with younger or developmentally challenged children and youth.

Be prepared that some of the topics may be challenging for those who were raised in the 20th century. The language is direct and explicit on several pages. The content has been purposely chosen to reflect what is happening in society. Speaking openly and directly about sex and sexuality is part of youth culture. Figuring out how to connect with this generation requires a willingness to listen without judging.

We hope that you will find helpful information and ideas that are interesting and stimulating. Leap21 creators also hope that you will go on and engage your colleagues and friends to open up discussion and break the silence on sexual violence that is so devastating.  

Together we are stronger.

Who contributed to the design and development of Leap21?

Input for LEAP21 was gathered from a wide range of resources and research, in collaboration with professionals, advocates and young people with lived experience. 

A youth advisory group comprised of young people who have been involved with the child welfare sector was convened and provided critical ideas, stories of experience and strong vision for this project.  Foster parents and child welfare workers and managers have also contributed their input and ideas. Thank you to everyone who participated in the creation and review process.

See more: about the child welfare sector and  the rights and responsibilities that protect children and youth.

Where is home for Leap21?

Anova is the home for Leap21. In 2017, Women's Community House and Sexual Assault Centre London in London Ontario merged to create Anova. Anova provides services and supports in London for people experiencing violence and/or abuse.  At Anova, we believe an inclusive world of shared power where everyone lives freely without fear of violence is possible. We are working to create change to eliminate patriarchal patterns that result in gender-based domestic and sexual violence and inequality.

Funding for LEAP21 was generously provided by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services as part of Ontario’s Sexual Violence & Harassment Action Plan. LEAP21 materials do not represent the views of the Ontario Government.

See also: It's Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment

Leap21: Changes in Law and Society

We are living in a time of great change. Scroll down to the timeline to gain a sense of  some of the most significant dates in how sexual violence has been addressed.

Meaningful dates in the evolution of sexual violence in Ontario and Canada

  • 1892

    First criminal code enacted: Rape is defined as a non-consensual act

  • 1976

    Amendments to criminal code take out cross- examination of complainant to previous history – however interpretations by judges refused to recognize the amendment and credibility of victim was elevated to the status of a material issue.

  • 1977

    The federal Human Rights Act set human rights into law to protect against discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, ability and sex - including sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. It was the most comprehensive human rights system in the world.

  • 1982

    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is passed.

  • 1983

    Rape reclassified as sexual assault to shift the definition from a crime of passion to an act of violence – victims no longer have to prove penetration.

    Spousal immunity was eliminated recognizing that sexual assault happens in marriage

  • 1987

    Decision from the Supreme Court of Canada that employers are liable for sexual harassment of workers under Canadian Human Rights Act.

  • 1991

    Rape shield law (1976) struck down by Supreme Court in R. v. Seaboyer.

  • 1992

    Parliament and House of Commons unanimously pass new rape shield law. Recognized the sexual history of complainant is rarely relevant – focus should remain on the event related to the charge.

  • 2010

    The Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act amended to include domestic violence as a workplace hazard. Ontario is the first jurisdiction in the world to do this.

  • 2015

    Ontario Government launches It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment.

  • 2016

    The Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act amended include a definition of "workplace sexual harassment" in the provisions on workplace harassment.