Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous; Homeless and/or runaway; Sex workers; Visible minority/ethnic group

Topic: Prostitution, sex trade and/or sexual exploitation

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting; Social services setting

Location: Quebec

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

Projet SPHÈRES (formerly known as Mineur(e)s exploité(e)s sexuellement [Sexually exploited minors]) is an initiative aimed at facilitating the social reintegration of prostitutes in Montreal. The program provides services (education, employability, substance abuse, mental health etc.) in a coordinated manner and on an integrated continuum, particularly during the critical period of going from adolescence to adulthood, in order to help youth stop the sexual acts that are putting them in danger and inhibiting positive development.

The program is centered on cognitive behavioral therapy; counselling and social work; and service referral.


The main goals of Projet SPHÈRES are to:

  • Increase the safety and sense of security of youth in prostitution;
  • Provide youth in prostitution prosocial opportunities (employment and education); and
  • Decrease/cease prostitution activities and promote successful reintegration of participants into socio-professional living.


The appropriate clientele for Projet SPHÈRES are youth (of any ethnocultural background) who are engaged in prostitution in Montreal. The majority of the clientele are girls, aged 14-17 who run away from home, and are living in youth centres.

Referrals to the program are made through the partnering community organizations.

Core Components

Projet SPHÈRES consists of the following components:

  • Clinical activities (in groups): Participants are provided interventions (cognitive-behavioural, developmental) that will help them learn and develop new attitudes and behaviours. These activities will help the youth achieve objectives in an established intervention plan in which the goal is to eventually leave their compromising situation;
  • Personalized psychosocial follow-up: The psychosocial follow-up of the participant is completely dependent on their needs, as the partnerships of the program offer their services (including addictions services, mental health services, employment help, and education) to the youth as a way of providing a security net to the youth. Program liaison officers can help the participants identify needs and prioritize interventions;
  • Specific interventions for runaway adolescents: Many clients in Projet SPHÈRES have a chronic history of running away, which helps expose them further to prostitution. The program ensures that for youth running away (or attempting to) are not stigmatized or ignored, and that the intervention path to be taken is better personalized and adapted for them; and
  • Response to urgent needs: The partnering agencies are able to offer services for those with urgent needs, including clothes, shelter, food, hygiene products, etc.).

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: Implementing organizations must have the tools, resources, and expertise to help youth transitioning out of prostitution. The organization must also be capable of managing long-term financial projects.
  • Partnerships: Important partnerships for the successful implementation of the project include youth centres, organizations/centres promoting safe sex, law enforcement agencies, and other community organizations that can help meet the needs of participants.
  • Training and technical assistance: In class training should be provided to the staff of the implementing organization (clinical and staff members alike). Training on using the risk assessment data sheet and the other tools for the program is also required.
  • Risk assessment tools: To participate in the program, a data sheet is filled to identify risk factors and protective factors for the potential participant. A committee within the organization will decide if the youth should participate in the program based off the data sheet information. A collection of other tools is also used to help track youth’s progression in the program (see Materials & resources).
  • Materials & resources: A tool used to help youth help protect themselves from sexual exploitation, Le silence de Cendrillon, should be used for this program. Assessment tools used to help participants in the program include: the University Rhodes Island Change Assessment Scale (URICA), the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI-2), and the Multidimensionnal Inventory of Development, Sex and Agression (MIDSA).

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to the Centre jeunesse de Montreal – Institut universitarie (CJM-IU) to implement Projet SPHÈRES from 2017-2022 in Montreal, Quebec.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of Projet SPHÈRES was carried out between 2017 and 2022 by Mathilde Turcotte and colleagues. The evaluation methodology included a mixed-methods design, including qualitative (e.g., interviews) and quantitative (e.g., questionnaires) measures.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • A total of 108 youth received services from 2017 to 2022, with 57 youth considered to still be active in the program by the evaluation end date.
  • Qualitative interviews with 32 youth from the program revealed that understanding one’s identity outside of prostitution was extremely important and often involved recovering areas of their lives that were affected by the prostitution, adopting new points of view, and moving forward in their recovery process with the support of stakeholders they trust.
  • Quantitative evaluations revealed improvements in areas of well-being and resiliency in a small sample of youth that participated in pre- and post-program evaluations (n = 20), and difficulties with increasing youth’s motivation to change while in the program.

Cost Information

No information available.


Turcotte, M., Magnan-Tremblay, L., Hébert, S. T., & Lafortune, D. (2023). Évaluation du Projet SPHÈRES: Impact sur la capacité à intervenir en situation d’exploitation sexuelle et contribution au désistement des activités de prostitution. [Unpublished final evaluation report]. Submitted to Public Safety Canada.

For more information on this program, contact:

Centre Jeunesse de Montréal - Institut universitaire
4675 Rue Bélanger Montréal, Quebec, H1T 1C2
Telephone: (514) 593-3979
E-mail: N/A

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-27
Record Updated On - 2023-12-11
Date modified: