October is Child Abuse Prevention Month in Alberta, and the Caribou Centre in Grande Prairie helping to lead the charge to raise awareness about child abuse and the important role communities can play in helping to keep children and youth safe.
The most recent annual report from the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services shows more than one in three youth is estimated to be a survivor of abuse. Buffy McIntosh with the Caribou Centre says they’re continuously making a push to create awareness on the subject, as it could save lives.
“We put a little information into the community because we saw the reporting numbers go down so drastically when everything shut down because kids are not necessarily in the same spaces they would normally be,” she says.
McIntosh says, despite many children returning to the classroom in September, health and safety measures put in place could be another barrier for victims as may not have access to traditional places, kids, when trying to find a safe space to speak to an adult about potential abuse.
“They’re not necessarily accessing the same extracurriculars that they ordinarily would be, so we may be missing signs of abuse as a result.”
McIntosh says if anyone suspects or is aware of a child that is experiencing some kind of abuse, it is their duty to report it, either through the child abuse hotline or through Children’s Services.
She adds on October 24th, Albertans to are being asked to wear blue in solidarity with all those who have been impacted by child abuse to spark more conversation and awareness. The Caribou Centre in Grande Prairie is one of 27 Child Advocacy Centres in Canada.