Vulnerability, Risk and the Importance of Resilience

Learn more about how discrimination disadvantages youth in care

60% of sexual abuse/assault victims are under the age of 17

Stats Canada

Vulnerability – It’s not your fault

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.

Some acts of sexual violence are also acts of racism, ableism, homophobia or transphobia.

Discrimination adds to risk of sexual violence

Whole populations of young people are more vulnerable to sexual violence because they experience discrimination for who they are:[Stats Canada]

  • 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[One Vision One Voice]
  • 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.[Child Welfare League of America & Lambda Legal (2012) Getting Down to Basics]
  • Developmentally or physically challenged young people who rely on assistance may be reliant on a person who is abusing them[RAINN: Sexual Abuse of People with disabilities]
  • Street involved youth are more at-risk for sexual coercion, physical and sexual assault.[Grace, Andre. (2015) Growing into Resilience: Sexual and Gender Minority in Canada.]
  • Young people in care experience discrimination because of the stigma of being ‘a bad kid’ from a ‘bad family’.[National Survey of Child and Youth Well-Being. (2013) No. 20: Adverse Childhood Experiences.]

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.


Further Reading & Resources