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Sexual Exploitation and Street Gangs

Gang members hang out in many places where young people gather: schools, arcades, parks, public transit and so on. The gang members who recruit young girls for prostitution approach them by first seducing them.

At the beginning, these girls are showered with all kinds of care and attention, both emotionally and materially:

  • Sense of belonging
  • Feeling of being loved and valued
  • Sense of importance
  • Flattery, etc.
  • Gifts of clothes and jewellery
  • Invitations to restaurants
  • Invitations to parties where drugs and alcohol are offered for free, etc.

As the gang member is busy laying the path that inevitably leads the girl to prostitution, the girl is falling in love with him. Before long, she is blinded by her feelings and doesn't realize how much her "boyfriend" is controlling her. Nor does she believe she will be sexually exploited.

After a few weeks or months of the dream life with the gang member she’s in love with, the girl is gradually drawn into prostitution to become a source of income for the gang.

From Prince Charming to manipulator

Gang members use a number of different strategies to convince girls to prostitute themselves:

  • The girls are asked to repay the "debts" they have accumulated for the gifts they have received
  • Prostitution is presented as a good way to earn cash quickly and be recognized as part of the gang
  • The girls are asked to help out to get their "boyfriend" out of a tricky financial situation
  • The girls are enticed by plans for future projects that will require money: moving, travelling, having a baby, etc. 

Many girls agree to become prostitutes without much hesitation because of their love for and dependency on one of the gang members. But if they object to getting involved in the sex trade or refuse the demands of the gang members, they may be intimidated, threatened or beaten until they see no other option but to submit.

What to do?

What should I do if my daughter is hanging around a street gang?

  1. Break the silence and talk about it!
  2. Don't keep it to yourself. It is important to get support from the people around you (family, friends, etc.) and from professionals in your area (teachers, school staff, CLSC resource workers, community resource workers, Centre jeunesse workers, etc.)
  3. Find out about the street gang phenomenon, about how girls get drawn into prostitution and about what you can do to support your daughter.
  4. Remember that as a parent, you have the power to act and you can help your child make the right choices.
  5. Never criticize the gang - and especially not the gang member your daughter is in love with. But ask questions, voice your concerns and discuss the values involved in healthy love relationships.
  6. Maintain a keen interest in your daughter's activities and friends, not only to keep track of her but also to show her she is important to you.
  7. Maintain or build your ties with your daughter, by talking about her interests and by suggesting activities that she likes and that will give you the opportunity to do something fun together.

Find out more

"Prostitution juvénile par les gangs" brochure

(Street gangs and juvenile prostitution - in French only)

  • This brochure provides a list of tips to help parents determine whether their daughter has been recruited for prostitution or is in the process of being recruited.
  • It also offers advice on what parents can do in these circumstances.

"Break the Silence!" brochure

  • This guide is for girls aged 11 to 15.
  • It teaches them about the strategies of charming manipulators who use seduction to lead young girls into prostitution.