EGADZ relaunches app to help youth report sexual exploitation, get help

Through the EGADZ I Am Not 4 Sale app, users can discreetly and anonymously have immediate emergency services sent to their location. Slavo Kutas / Global News

EGADZ has relaunched an app that can help Saskatoon youth discreetly report sexual exploitation or other issues.

EGADZ offers programs and services to children, youth and their families through street outreach, housing, education and employment support and parenting programming.

About half a year in the making, the I am Not 4 Sale app features a number of other tools such as an online chat function that can put users in touch with EGADZ counselors 24-7.

The app is available for individuals of any age or gender to use.

Through the app, users can discreetly and anonymously have immediate emergency services sent to their location.

Story continues below advertisement

The app also allows users to see where EGADZ Street Outreach vans are within the city.

Chad Jones, founder and CEO of Push Interactions provided a live demo of the app on Friday.

The app instructs users to call 911 if they are in an immediate emergency situation.

Click to play video: 'Online Child Sexual Exploitation on the Rise in Canada'
Online Child Sexual Exploitation on the Rise in Canada

The new feature allows users to select ‘Help me now’ which will share their location with staff. A chat window will also pop up, allowing users to communicate their situation with the staff member.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

From there, staff will quickly assess the situation and provide support based on the unique situation.

If a user is unable to respond to the chat and is in need of “immediate” and “intense” support, the app will share their location with the police.

Story continues below advertisement

Users give their consent to share their location upon first opening the app and again once they activate the ‘help me now’ feature.

Another feature of the app will simulate a phone ring tone when pressed, a tactic some people use when walking alone.

The app was redeveloped with provincial government funding of around $50,000. Youth helped with the design of the app such as choosing the colours.

Saskatoon Riversdale MLA Marv Friesen was at the app launch news conference on Friday and said the tool will lead to more safety and security for young people in Saskatchewan.

Click to play video: 'Battling online child sexual exploitation'
Battling online child sexual exploitation

“EDAGZ has always placed the focus on listening to young people who they work for — developing programs (and) services based on their ideas, experiences and wisdom,” Friesen said.

Story continues below advertisement

Saskatoon Police Supt. Patrick Nogier also praised the efforts of those involved with the app creation for keeping the community safe.

“We realize that there has to be a nexus between the community and our police service and sometimes you need people that can connect with people on the street to make sure that we bridge that gap,” Nogier said.

Nogier added that this app pushes the police service in that direction.

“It provides us with a platform that we can facilitate a good communication flow to try and hold those that are accountable and bring them to justice,” Nogier said.

EGADZ executive director Don Meikle said the organization’s Sexual Exploitation Intervention Committee has started meeting monthly again.

“We already have identified over six kids under the age of 18 that are working out on the street (and) that are needing our services,” Meikle said.

Meilke added with tools like social media, youth are being sexually exploited without anyone knowing about it.

“They’re kind of like the hidden kids,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Meilke said the I Am Not 4 Sale app will help EGADZ and other agencies identify those kids and make sure supports are in place for them.

Sponsored content