Ed­u­ca­tion key to pre­vent­ing, stop­ping child abuse

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL - Bev Moore Davis Miles For Smiles Foun­da­tion

I am sad­dened to read the news of the sys­tem, and so­ci­ety, fail­ing yet an­other child, and con­se­quently en­abling the abuse to con­tinue.

The specifics may be dif­fer­ent, but not the story. I hear this reg­u­larly through the ASCA (Adult Sur­vivors of Child Abuse) peer sup­port group in St John’s. His­tory has and con­tin­ues to re­peat it­self, over and over.

The de­ci­sion-mak­ers need to look at the rec­om­men­da­tions com­ing from the Child and Youth Care Ad­vo­cate’s Of­fice, dur­ing past in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Trained pro­fes­sion­als could have bet­ter di­ag­nosed this sit­u­a­tion and if these front­line pro­fes­sion­als are not trained, we have to ask why.

The fact that a 12-year-old child was preg­nant was a huge red flag. Many ques­tions should have been asked, while bear­ing in mind that a scared child will say what­ever they are told to say. A trained pro­fes­sional would rec­og­nize the signs and would know the ques­tions to be asked, as well as how to ask these ques­tions. They would also rec­og­nize the sig­nif­i­cance in talk­ing to the child with­out the adult be­ing present.

Fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties need to share in the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­tect­ing all chil­dren. These are the peo­ple that spend the most time with the vic­tims and with the most po­ten­tial to dis­cover red flags. Sadly, we still of­ten hear of peo­ple com­ing for­ward, af­ter the dam­age has been done. If an adult sus­pects a child is be­ing abused, they have a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity to speak up for the child; bet­ter to have been wrong than to allow the po­ten­tial abuse to con­tinue. The con­se­quences have a far greater rip­pling ef­fect on the com­mu­nity when there has been no in­ter­ven­tion.

“Chil­dren should know what con­sti­tutes sex­ual abuse; they should know that it is wrong and in­ap­pro­pri­ate.”

Equally im­por­tant, chil­dren need be trained. With many par­ents and care­givers not com­fort­able talk­ing about sex, it only makes sense for this train­ing to be im­ple­mented in schools where no child can be left out. Chil­dren should know what con­sti­tutes sex­ual abuse; they should know that it is wrong and in­ap­pro­pri­ate. They should know the pro­to­col and that there’s a safe sys­tem of sup­port peo­ple want­ing to help them.

Ed­u­ca­tion is es­sen­tial on ev­ery level — start­ing with the chil­dren and go­ing all the way to the de­ci­sion-mak­ers — if we are ever to pre­vent child sex­ual abuse.

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