Youth are one of the groups who are at greater risk of sexual violence. Besides being young and having less power than adults, there are other things that combine to make young people more or less vulnerable. Some examples include race, gender identity, Indigeneity, ethnicity or culture, ability, number of friends and family, dependency on others, to name a few. Some are determined by blood and family, some are by choice or luck. The truth is that we are all vulnerable to hurt and harm when people are bigger and stronger and have more power and/or privilege, especially they have authority over us.
It is never the person’s fault when someone with more power takes advantage.
Whole populations of young people are more vulnerable to sexual violence because they experience discrimination for who they are:
- Indigenous and racialized children and youth are over-represented in the child welfare system. Their families experience discrimination and come under closer scrutiny on protection issues for cultural differences including parenting practices
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) children and youth are another over-represented group. They often have to move into care because they are rejected by their families.
- Developmentally or physically challenged young people who rely on assistance may be reliant on a person who is abusing them
- Street involved youth are more at-risk for sexual coercion, physical and sexual assault.
- Young people in care experience discrimination because of the stigma of being ‘a bad kid’ from a ‘bad family’.
Adults who are supportive allies recognize that discrimination increases risk. They take steps to learn about the issues that cause discrimination and advocate for youth.