Child Abuse Remains a Major Problem in Ontario



    Child Abuse Prevention Month Begins Today

    TORONTO, Oct. 1 /CNW/ - Last year, more than 29,000 children in Ontario
suffered maltreatment and came into the care of Ontario's Children's Aid
Societies, an increase of 24% since 2000/2001.
    The number of children and families receiving services from Children's
Aid Societies keeps increasing, indicating that our society must continue to
take the necessary steps to end child abuse and neglect. In 2006/2007,
Ontario's Children's Aid Societies received more than 160,000 calls about
child protection concerns from citizens, neighbours, health professionals,
teachers or police officers, up 25% from 2000/2001. During the same period,
almost 44,000 families received child welfare services and parenting supports
from a Children's Aid Society to cope with stress, poverty, addiction and
mental health problems, 33% more than in 2000/2001.
    "Our children are precious and the most vulnerable citizens of our
society, they deserve a life free of fear and violence," said Jeanette Lewis,
Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
(OACAS). "Each of us has a responsibility to protect them from abuse and harm
by learning the signs of child abuse and reporting suspected child abuse to a
Children's Aid Society."
    According to the Ontario Incidence Study released in 2005, almost 5% of
children in Ontario, about 130,000 children, were possibly abused or
neglected. The study also showed that:
    
    -   nearly a third of all investigations of abuse (32%) involved exposure
        to domestic violence;
    -   27% involved neglect;
    -   15% involved emotional abuse;
    -   10% were physical abuse cases; and
    -   3% involved sexual abuse.
    

    "When we, as Canadians, ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the
Child, we promised to protect children from abuse. It is time we kept our
promise to Canada's most vulnerable citizens," said Agnes Samler, Provincial
Advocate for Children and Youth.
    Children suffer abuse or neglect when an adult, caregiver, family friend
or stranger physically hurts or sexually molests a child, fails to provide
proper care or deprives a child of support and affection. Too many children in
our communities are suffering abuse at the hands of adults they know and
trust. That's why, for the past 15 years, Ontario's Children's Aid Societies
have been educating and building awareness during October - Child Abuse
Prevention Month - to ensure children and youth are safe, healthy and well
cared for.
    This year, our theme is "Abused children don't always look it" to remind
the public that child abuse isn't always obvious. Ontarians can learn more
about child abuse, how to recognize the subtle and obvious signs of abuse and
how to report it at useyourvoice.ca.
    The OACAS recommends that citizens, organizations and governments get
involved to help prevent child abuse by taking the following steps:

    
    -   Public Education - Learn about child abuse and neglect and how to
        recognize the subtle and obvious signs of abuse.
    -   Report abuse - If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected,
        it's your legal duty to report your concerns to your local Children's
        Aid Society.
    -   Advocate - Encourage leaders in your community to be supportive of
        children, families and prevention programs such as affordable day
        care and housing, parenting centres and after school recreation
        programs.
    -   Support Families - Talk with your neighbours about the importance of
        supporting children and families in your area. When you see a parent
        who is at their wit's end, offer assistance because even a few
        minutes of your time can go a long way in helping a distraught
        person.
    -   Parent positively - Remember, discipline is meant to teach your child
        how to behave, be safe and get along with others.
           -  Never physically discipline a child when you are angry, as it
              is too easy to lose control and seriously hurt your child.
           -  Encourage good behavior with positive attention and clear
              communication.
           -  Provide a positive environment for your children.
    

    Learn more about positive parenting and child abuse prevention at
useyourvoice.ca.

    About Children's Aid Societies

    Ontario's Children's Aid Societies protect children from abuse and
neglect, promote child well-being within families and communities, and provide
homes for children and youth to grow up. Ontario's Children's Aid Societies
rely on concerned citizens to be their eyes and ears to effectively protect
children from harm and danger.

    About the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies

    OACAS is a membership organization representing Children's Aid Societies
in Ontario. Since 1912 the OACAS has provided services in the areas of
advocacy, government relations, communications, youth in care, information
management, education and training, accreditation and member outreach. OACAS
is the voice of child welfare in Ontario.


    
    BACKGROUNDER
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                PROFILE OF THE CHILDREN AND FAMILIES WE SERVE

    Children in Care
    ----------------
        -  29,143 children were in the care of Ontario's Children's Aid
           Societies between April 2006 and March 2007, almost 1% of children
           in Ontario.
              -  19.8 % are aged 0 to 5
              -  29 % are between the ages of 6 to 12 years
              -  23 % are youth aged 13 to 15
              -  27 % are youth between 16 and 21 years of age
        -  Total number of children in care who are crown wards is 9,244:
              -  2,262 crown wards have no access with family
              -  6,982 crown wards maintain access to family

    Families and child welfare services
    -----------------------------------
    Families more likely to receive child welfare services and supports from
    a Children's Aid Society:
        -  are blended two-parent families or single parent families;
        -  have moved two or more times in the previous year;
        -  have parents with cognitive impairments;
        -  have parents with alcohol concerns;
        -  have parents who have experienced abuse when they were children;
        -  have parents with suspected or confirmed criminal activity;
        -  have parents who have a part-time rather than a full time income;
           or
        -  are receiving some form of benefits, employment insurance or
           social assistance, which happened in more than one-third (34%) of
           cases of neglect.

    Aboriginal children
    -------------------
    Aboriginal children experience higher rates of involvement with a
    Children's Aid Society than non-Aboriginal children.
        -  Of investigations involving Aboriginal children, 65% resulted in
           on-going service compared to 38% of investigations of non-
           Aboriginal children.
        -  Of investigations involving Aboriginal children, 11% resulted in
           court intervention compared to 6% of investigations of non-
           Aboriginal children.
        -  Of investigations involving Aboriginal children, 12% resulted in
           the child coming into care compared to 6% of investigations of
           non-Aboriginal children.


                         SUBTLE SIGNS OF CHILD ABUSE

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Subtle signs of physical abuse may include (but are not limited to):
    -   Child wears long sleeves/long pants even in warm weather
    -   Excessive crying
    -   Child seems anxious when other children cry
    -   Avoidance of physical contact with others
    -   Recurrent nightmares or disturbed sleep patterns
    -   Behavior extremes-aggressiveness or withdrawal
    -   Poor self-concept
    -   Whispering speech
    -   Loss of appetite for no apparent reason, or excessive appetite
    -   Child is wary of adults
    -   Reenactment of abuse using dolls, drawings, or friends
    -   Clinging
    -   Delinquent behavior
    -   Abrupt decline in school performance

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Subtle signs of emotional abuse may include (but are not limited to):
    -   Sudden change in self-confidence
    -   Headaches or stomach aches with no medical cause
    -   Destructive behaviour
    -   Abnormal fears, increased nightmares
    -   Failure to gain weight (especially in infants)
    -   Desperately affectionate behavior
    -   Speech disorders (stuttering, stammering)
    -   Habit disorders (biting, rocking, head-banging)
    -   Argumentative or consistent temper tantrums
    -   Bullying tactics
    -   Easily frustrated
    -   Behavior extremes-disobedient or overly compliant

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Subtle signs of sexual abuse may include (but are not limited to):
    -   Frequent sore throats or urinary infections
    -   Constant sadness
    -   Reenactment of abuse using dolls, drawings, or friends
    -   Clinging
    -   Thumb-sucking
    -   Sudden fear of the dark
    -   Behavior extremes-aggressiveness or withdrawal
    -   Recurrent nightmares or disturbed sleep patterns
    -   Loss of appetite for no apparent reason, or excessive appetite
    -   Bedwetting
    -   Avoidance of undressing or wearing extra layers of clothes
    -   Abrupt decline in school performance

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Subtle signs of neglect may include (but are not limited to):
    -   Missing key articles of clothing
    -   Over or under-dressed for weather conditions
    -   Height and weight significantly below age level
    -   Consistent school absenteeism
    -   Persistent hunger
    -   Trouble concentrating
    -   Low self-esteem
    -   Body odour
    -   Child assumes adult responsibilities
    -   Always dirty and severely unkempt
    -   Sleepiness/always tired
    -   Child steals food/lunch money from others

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    





For further information:

For further information: Marcelo Gomez-Wiuckstern, Communications
Manager, Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, (416) 987-9648,
www.oacas.org

Organization Profile

Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies

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