Throughout the world, children are sexually exploited—by strangers, acquaintances, friends and even family members. From victims of child abuse in Vienna to child prostitution in Vancouver, Kids for Sale looks beyond the statistics as it profiles a handful of individuals personally affected by sexual exploitation. This film chronicles the dark side of life that all too often engulfs girls and boys who are powerless to protect themselves. This is also a film about redemption and action—about the efforts undertaken by social workers and therapist to protect children from abuse. It is also a film about empowerment, about the youth who take control of their lives.
At the age of 14, Cherry Kingsley was lured into prostitution. She coped with her situation by turning to drugs and detaching from reality. Now in her early twenties and a social worker, she helps teenage girls and boys find refuge from a life she knows only too well.
In some countries, sensational cases of child abuse has triggered new calls for tougher penalties and stricter laws. Experts are increasingly aiming towards prevention. In several Austrian schools a new educational project called “Love Talks” is being made available to both parents and pupils. Children participate in workshops in which they practice saying “no” and learn how to defend themselves from predators. Their parents also participate and are encouraged to talk to their children openly about sexuality.
Elisabeth Reuter, a German woman who suffered abuse as a child, paints and writes books about the psychological impact on a child who encounters sexual violence. At an exhibition of her pictures, she discusses her experiences with pupils. Through her scars will last a lifetime, her work will no doubt save others from the same fate.
In Canada, the Outward Bound program aims to instill a new sense of self-esteem in girls and women who have endured sexual violence. Through training courses in nature, the program reinforces positive attitudes and helps these young women look toward the future.
From self-esteem courses to self-defense workshops, Kids for Sale is a powerful film about the need for more programs to combat sexual abuse.