Identification and assessment is a process of choosing and targeting a youth. Youth will often be chosen by recruiters assessing the factors that increase the youth’s exposure to exploitation. This assessment often includes gaining personal information about the youth through casual conversation with the youth, their friends, or their family.
Assessment takes into account:
- youth’s potential needs (care, food, shelter, friendship etc.) that offer opportunities for exploitation, this includes examining
- youth’s self-esteem and confidence
- family dynamics and friendships
- familiarity with substance use
- socio-economic position
- routines (ex. work, school, after-school activities)
- factors that reduce the likelihood recruiters will be caught such as youth’s demographics (age, race/ethnicity, gender etc.)
- although factors are discussed in-depth in Module 3, we want to immediately note that demographics impact youth’s exposure to exploitation because of systemic oppression through which dominant systems of power makes certain identities increasingly unsafe.
- For example, Indigenous youth are less likely to be trusted by police and are at a high risk of experiencing police violence and charges (Dept. of Justice, 2015). Therefore, the mainstream system of accessing safety and protection from exploitative circumstances (police reporting) are highly inaccessible to, and dangerous for, Indigenous youth. As a result, it is easier for people seeking to exploit Indigenous youth to avoid detection or accountability for their actions.
In Canada, people seeking to exploit youth for personal gain primarily recruit through the Internet or by acquaintance. Youth can be recruited in any environment, including:
- within the home by friends or family members
- on social media sites
- at school by classmates, educational leaders, community members, or individuals who spend time near school grounds
- places where youth gather such as, playgrounds, malls, community centers, local stores, clubs/bars
- religious, spiritual, or faith-based spaces
- on the street or public transit
- foster homes, group homes, shelters, drop-in centers or social programming
- youth detention centers, other spaces for institutionalized youth