Discourse Analysis of Sexual Exploitation in Canadian News


Using a mixed methods approach, we critically explored the discourse used in printed news media to describe the sexual exploitation of youth. Our data set included approximately 1300 articles from various newspapers across Canada, 1988 – 2013 that discussed specific events, issues, research findings, and policy or legal changes related to the sexual exploitation of youth.

This project explored questions such as:

  • how might the language of sexual exploitation change over time?
  • how are victims described? Who is “typical” and who is invisible?
  • what are differences in gender and ethnicity?
  • what is the narrative structure of the stories?
  • what are the words chosen for headlines?
  • and, how are perpetrators characterized?

Click here to see our first publication using data up to 2008, “Competing Discourses about youth sexual exploitation in Canadian news media” published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality.


Principal Investigators: Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc and Dr. Pam Hirakata

Co-Investigators: Dr. Chris Hitchcock, Dr. Jean Shoveller, Dr. Laura MacKaym, Jayson Anderson, Jennifer Matthews, Quinn Metcalfe, Semee Joo, Stephanie Callaghan, Rob Rivers, Bea Miller, and Carla Hilario

Funded by CIHR-PHAC Research Chair (Applied Public Health Research) under the grant “Building Capacity for Population-Level Monitoring & Interventions for Healthy Youth”, 2008-2013