“No violence against children is justifiable; all violence against children is preventable.”
These powerful words were penned in August, 2006 by an independent reviewer who was commissioned by the United Nations to study the state of child rights and specifically looked at violence against children.
These words need to be repeated across the land and beyond.
The tragedy last month in Virginia is a painful reminder of how much work we have to do in this country, Canada, and beyond. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of all the victims and survivors. And we realize we are all affected in some way when we hear the stories of heroism, support, and loss.
As we come to terms with the magnitude of this tragedy, we must remain focused on the future and what we can do better in Canada. Whatever tools we give our children and youth as they grow determines the path they will walk.
This aforementioned UN report advocates for some clear actions our Canadian government can take to ensure children grow up healthy, resilient, and able to contribute to their society.
One of the recommendations is to highlight the protective factors, such as stable family units, strong attachment bonds between parents and children, positive non-violent discipline, school-wide policies and effective curricula that support the development of non-violent and non-discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, high levels of social cohesion, and supportive relationships with healthy peers.
Another recommendation is to have prevention education at all school levels. Children and youth spend much of their time at school in Canada. We are fortunate to have universal education through to university entrance.
This is a prime learning opportunity.
A third and important policy recommendation is to strengthen our efforts to combat cyber-bullying and Internet sexual exploitation. A single Internet offender or predator can impact thousands of youth.
We can all make this difference. Pick one thing that you can do to make our country safer for our children and youth. Take a course, really listen to a child or youth in your life, volunteer with a community program.
Our kids depend on it.
Visit www.redcross.ca/respected for more ideas.
and Don McDonald
and Abuse Services