|Today's date: Monday May 20, 2013||Vol 46 Issue 20|
We Cover The County...
Purple decals - Wellington County councillor Don McKay, left, joins Wellington County OPP detective sergeant Caren Ashmore and Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge in decorating a Guelph police cruiser with magnetic purple ribbons to launch the purple ribbon campaign in support of October as Child Abuse Awareness Month throughout Ontario. submitted photo
Local launch of purple ribbon campaign recognizes Child Abuse Prevention Month
by Kelly Waterhouse
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Child Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario, recognized through the Purple Ribbon Campaign.
On Oct. 4 members of Family and Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County (FCS) officially launched the Guelph-Wellington campaign from Guelph City Hall alongside representatives of both the Guelph Police Department and Wellington County OPP, as well as Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge, county councillor Don McKay and other community members.
Each October, local children’s aid societies across the province hold a Purple Ribbon Campaign to increase public awareness and knowledge of child abuse prevention.
Speakers at the local event included Daniel Moore, executive director of FCS, who spoke about the need for continued public efforts in protecting children.
“Last year we received 3,000 calls from the community,” Moore said.
Of those, he explained, approximately 1,300 required a visit from a social worker, while the remainder of situations were assessed and referred to other agencies or services for support within the community.
He noted approximately 400 children in the area are in direct contact with a social worker.
Moore said approximately 90 children were brought into the care of his agency in the last year, which is an important indicator of the FCS efforts to keep children with their families wherever possible by providing the resources necessary to help families stay together.
“We are committed to working with all members of our community to ensure that children and youth are living in safe and caring environments,” Moore said.
Key to that work is the commitment and support of foster families.
“We have a dedicated group of foster parents and foster families who currently take in 110 children in the county,” Moore said.
He told the audience it is important that people realize the issues of abuse and neglect are often related to situations such as poverty and mental illness.
“It always happens within a context - sometimes outside of a family’s control,” Moore said. “We don’t see these families in isolation; we see them in the context of a bigger community.”
That is why it is the responsibility of the greater community to look after the needs of its children, he added.
“We really believe our ultimate accountability is to the citizens of our communities,” said Moore.
McKay, who is on the board of the FCS, agreed.
“Children are our most vulnerable and our most important citizens, and if we don’t protect them from abuse and neglect, we won’t have a future in our community, in our county, in our world.”
Pleased with the efforts of the campaign, McKay added, “It’s only for a month. It should be more. It should be every day we think about this and educate others.”
The goal of the purple ribbon campaign is to educate the public on reporting both actual and suspected cases of child abuse by:
- informing the public of their duty to report abuse and neglect;
- acknowledging the devastating effects of abuse and neglect;
- explaining the importance of early intervention and prevention; and
- educating the public about the signs of abuse and neglect, especially the subtle signs of abuse, so they can recognize and report it.
The campaign is also intended to instill public confidence in the work of Children’s Aid Societies by:
- focusing on the good work of societies in Ontario;
- educating the public and community professionals about the role of CAS in protecting children and supporting families; and
- encouraging individuals to support CASs by participating in the campaign.
Moore credits partnerships with both the Guelph Police Service and the Wellington County OPP as helping to protect the region’s children.
Guelph Police Chief Bryan Larkin credited the staff and volunteers who work with FCS, as well as other partnerships within the community, including those with both the Upper Grand District School Board and the Wellington Catholic District School Board.
“It is our one goal approach that brings us together,” said Larkin. “The Guelph Police Service is proud to support the purple ribbon campaign as we raise awareness about the importance of building a safe, strong and vibrant community where children of all ages have the opportunity to flourish as our future leaders.”
OPP detective sergeant Caren Ashmore told the audience her department looks forward to building partnerships to do what is best for the needs of children across the county.
“Children are our future and many of them don’t have a voice,” said Ashmore.
Following the presentations, the speakers and attendees were invited to head outside City Hall to decorate a Guelph police cruiser with magnetic purple ribbons, before FCS staff and volunteers from The Co-operators headed to the Old Quebec Street Mall to hand out information and purple ribbons.
As education is key, officials say the following guidelines can help people understand the reporting process.
What is abuse and neglect?
Abuse is when a child is hurt intentionally, or when a parent or caregiver fails to protect a child in their care.
It’s against the law.
Physical and sexual abuse are clear examples of maltreatment, but so too is neglect, the failure to meet a child’s basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, sleep, medical attention, education and protection from harm.
Children can also be emotionally abused when their parent or caregiver attacks their emotional development and self-worth by constantly criticizing, teasing, bullying, rejecting or ignoring.
What are the signs of abuse and neglect?
Unexplained injuries, fear of a specific adult, difficulty trusting others or making friends, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, poor hygiene, secrecy and inappropriate sexual behaviour may be signs of family problems and could indicate a child is being abused or neglected.
Remember: people don’t need to be sure that a child is being abused or neglected - they can let their local Children’s Aid Society know about their concerns and the appropriate people will determine if a child is in danger.
How to report abuse
Anyone who suspects a child is being abused or neglected has a legal duty to report the situation to a Children’s Aid Society, even if they have already reported it on a previous occasion.
For the child’s sake, don’t delay, call the Children’s Aid Society immediately. The phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The importance of supporting parents in the community
Child abuse and family crisis are community problems. Offer care and support if a friend is struggling with parenting.
Help prevent families from reaching a state of crisis by referring struggling parents in need of support to their local Children’s Aid Society.
It is important to remember that nobody is perfect. If in need of help, ask for it. Call the local Children’s Aid Society for more information about parenting and services in the community.
Visit www.useyourvoice.ca for more tips and information.
To learn more about the work of Family and Children’s Services, child abuse and neglect, how to recognize it and what happens when the local child welfare agency is called, go to www.fcsgw.org.
October 12, 2012
The Wellington Advertiser
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