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October 6, 2015

Statement

The Honourable Tracy MacCharles
Minister of Children and Youth Services

Child Abuse Prevention Month


Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today marks the first day of Child Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario.

Every October the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies has an annual Purple Ribbon Campaign to help raise awareness of child abuse prevention.

Thank you to all members of the House for your support of this campaign. By wearing a ribbon, you are acknowledging this serious and important cause.

We can all agree that child abuse and neglect is unacceptable.

This month, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services is launching a public education campaign to inform the general public of its duty to report if a child is or may be at risk of abuse or neglect.

All MPPs will receive posters for their constituency offices for this campaign, and online ads will inform the public about how to report abuse.

There are more than 2.8 million children and youth who call Ontario their home.

Children and youth are the most vulnerable members of any society and they depend on us for protection.

These purple ribbons remind us that we all have a responsibility to protect and keep all children and youth safe.

All Ontarians have a legal responsibility to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.

Under the Child and Family Services Act, all members of the public, including professionals who work closely with children and youth, must promptly report any reasonable suspicions that a child is or may be in need of protection directly to a children's aid society.

Child abuse includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect and risk of harm.

Ontarians should never hesitate to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. It is not necessary for a person to be certain a child is or may be in need of protection to make a report to a children's aid society. They only need to have reasonable grounds for their suspicion.

Reasonable grounds refer to information that an average person, using normal and honest judgment, would need in order to decide to report.

Members of the public, including professionals who work with children and youth, can find contact information for their local children's aid society by dialing 411, where applicable, or by visiting the Ministry of Children and Youth Services' website.

I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the vital role that all children's aid societies across this province play in keeping young people safe.

Mr. Speaker, as a government we have worked to strengthen the child welfare system in order to prevent cases of child abuse and neglect.

We have made progress in helping to better protect vulnerable children and youth.

For example, through the Community Capacity Building program, we provide annual funding to community-based agencies to deliver programs and supports to families involved in the child welfare system and to prevent children and youth from entering or re-entering care.

The government has passed legislation that provides the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth with the authority to investigate matters relating to children and youth involved in the child protection system.

As well, my ministry funds the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies to provide a Training and Education curriculum to support child protection staff in making critical decisions about child safety and to improve outcomes for all children and youth.

The training helps child protection workers to exercise their role, to support and respond to the needs of children, youth and their families.

We have also reached out to a number of professional associations including: teachers; early childhood educators; fire fighters; and health care professionals to increase their awareness and understanding of their duty to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect under the Child and Family Services Act as they are on the front-lines every day with children and families. We count on them to understand and exercise their responsibility to report suspected abuse or neglect.

Preventing child abuse and neglect is a collective responsibility. We all have a role to play.

I urge all members of this House - and all Ontarians - to learn the signs of child abuse and neglect.

If you see it, report it. It's the law.

Thank you to everyone out in the community who is making a real difference day-in and day-out in the lives of children and youth.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.