OTTAWA, Sept. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - In recent months there has been a large amount of press coverage on local incidents involving child safety, for example leaving children unattended, and corporal punishment. The coverage on these social issues has allowed community organizations such as the CAS with an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of being vigilant and reporting suspicions of abuse or neglect. However, it also highlights the lack of accurate information in the community on identifying signs of abuse and the appropriate steps to take to report concerns.
"The biggest fear that people have when deciding whether or not to call is that they might be wrong with their interpretation of the situation, and that it's none of their business" says Barbara MacKinnon, Executive Director of The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa. "Making that important call is never easy, but it's the right thing to do."
The bottom line is when in doubt call the CAS. When a worker receives a call, all of the facts are noted and an assessment is made as to the seriousness of the risk to the child. Then the worker talks with the parent or caregivers to get an understanding of what is going on. Was it lack of judgement? Overall issues with caregiving or parenting skills? Mental health or addictions issues? What happens next depends on the overall situation in terms of the parent's ability to ensure for the safety and well-being of their child. Only a very small percentage of children or youth must come into care, most remain with their families who receive supports from the CAS.
Each year, the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa receives over 25,000 calls and inquiries. Of these calls, over 6,500 are reports of child abuse or neglect from concerned community members. The remainder of the calls is either calls for consultations with intake workers or community members wanted information on programs.
Knowing when to call and recognizing signs of abuse has been a longstanding focus of the yearly awareness campaign held each October, which has been designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario. This year's campaign, once again called 'Use Your Voice', attempts to bring increased awareness to the notion that the well-being of children and youth is a community responsibility.
Ottawa residents can learn more about child abuse, how to recognize the subtle and obvious signs of abuse and how to report it at useyourvoice.ca.
Media Event (photo-op): Use Your Voice Challenge
Use Your Voice Challenge. The public is invited to test their voices and raise awareness of the issue of child abuse. Audiologists will be there to measure decibels of those who chose to 'use their voice' to shout out 'Stand up for kids - Give them a voice!'. The winner of the loudest voice will win a $100 gift certificate to Bayshore Shopping Center. This event will be hosted by The New Hot 89.9FM.
When: Saturday, October 3, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Where: Bayshore Shopping Centre - Customer Service Desk
Area, below the escalators
Media Availability: Any participant, event organizers, former youth in
care as identified to media by the Communications
SOURCE Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa
For further information: For further information: France Clost, Communications, The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, (613) 747-7800 ext. 2033, www.casott.on.ca