Two local childcare groups have come together with the shared goal of ending child abuse.
Dilico Anishinabek Family Care has partnered with the Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay Tuesday to launch their Step Up campaign for Child Abuse Prevention Month. Dilico Anishinabek Family Care executive director Darcia Borg said it’s important to raise awareness of child abuse, and to let children who are suffering know they don’t have to be alone.
“I think it’s really important for children to know they’re not alone, and to know that there are organizations and people and teachers they can reach out to if they’re hurting to talk to them about it,” Borg explained.
“One of the primary goals is ensuring the safety and health of children in our community.”
Rob Richardson, executive director of the Children’s Aid Soceity of the District of Thunder Bay said dealing with the consequences of child abuse is one of the major issues the groups work with.
“Child abuse is one of the most traumatic experiences that the family and children we work with experience,” Richardson said.
“The obvious thing from a physical abuse case is injuries can often result in death or significant long-term disabilities. From an emotional or psychological standpoint it’s pretty devastating for children that now believe they are worthless, that they’re not of value.”
New for this year’s campaign is a banner, which the organizations will have travel around to various area schools to have children’s feet dipped in purple paint and then placed on the banner.
Children in Dilico’s day treatment program were on hand for the launch at their Heath Park site, and were the first to put their footprints on the banner.
The symbolic act of stepping up has a greater meaning for the children.
“You could see they were really happy to participate today,” Borg said. “The children are our future, and we strongly believe they are a sacred gift so it’s important to have the children involved and I think it brings meaning to the campaign.”
Borg estimates that by the end of the campaign hundreds of children will have a chance to put their footprint on the banner.
Last year the two groups provided services to over 3,000 families, which equates to more than 7,000 children. A 2011 poll estimates that 47 per cent of Ontarians know someone who has either been exposed to or is a victim of child abuse.
Other activities planned for the month include a Go Purple for Prevention Day, where they encourage everybody to wear purple on October 16.
There is also a Step Up Facebook page set up to provide information as well as educational tools to help recognize and prevent child abuse.
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