Marking Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month (column)
London Community News
Every October, Children’s Aid Societies bring awareness to the importance of keeping children safe by declaring this Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month. The mayor and city council recognized this initiative by wearing a purple ribbon at the recent council meeting.
The month provides an opportunity for agencies across Ontario to talk to and engage the public about our collective responsibility to protect children.
As a social worker working with children and families, I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of this month’s message to consult, teach and increase awareness around child abuse and neglect. Prevention tends to work best!
We all have a responsibility and legal obligation to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect. Children don’t always show warning signs, but there may be subtle indicators. And children may keep silent about any abuse.
If you have any concerns at all, contact CAS at 519-455-9000.
Let’s look at some of the facts.
During the past fiscal year locally, we received 7,470 referrals from the community and 2,537 allegations of child abuse and neglect were investigated. Most of the referrals came from the police, but some 800 families called the CAS asking for help.
Across the province last year, Children’s Aid received almost 168,000 referrals about possible abuse and neglect of children and youth. More than 85,000 investigations were completed and 47,078 families received ongoing protection services from Children’s Aid after investigation.
These numbers represent a 1.6 per cent increase in referrals in Ontario from 2010-2011 and a 2.3 per cent increase in child protection cases in the same time period.
In times of economic uncertainty, more families and children experience the need for child protection services, which is a contributing factor to increased referrals.
While referrals and investigations have gone up, the total number of children in care has declined by 0.7 per cent from 2010-2011 across Ontario.
This is due to the fact that agencies are working to intervene earlier with families and to keep families together by offering support. Approximately 90 per cent of child protection cases served by Children’s Aid involve agencies working with the children and parents together. This means keeping the children at home if it is safe to do so and providing a stable future for children.
Some examples of this support include helping parents to learn effective and safe parenting skills or facilitating treatment for factors that could impair parents’ abilities to care for their children (due to substance abuse, mental health, etc.). This upfront approach helps keep children from coming into care.
During this awareness month, you can pledge your support to Children’s Aid Societies and to children. Sign an online declaration that states: I believe that all children deserve a life free from fear, harm and violence. I support the work of Children’s Aid that helps to keep children and youth safe, ensure they are well cared for and have the opportunity to mature and grow in a supportive community.”
To pledge your support, follow this link www.useyourvoice.ca/en/our-stories/declaration-of-support/index.asp.
Also visit www.caslondon.on.ca for more information about our local agency and the work we do to keep our kids safe and to offer them a bright future. All of us are obligated to make children a priority in our community. Children are our future.
Sandy White, councillor for Ward 14, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 226-688-9427.