Yesterday I assumed the responsibilities of Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Child Advocacy Centre Niagara. I am honoured to be part of this wonderful organization: helping, healing, ending child abuse.
The unfortunate facts of child abuse in Canada may surprise you:
- One in three girls will be sexually abused. The average age is 12. One in six boys will be abused. The average age is 4.
- 95% of those abusers are relatives or friends of their victims.
- On average, a child will disclose to five people before abuse actually gets reported. However, About half never tell anyone.
In the Niagara Region, we have an organization that is trying to make a difference for children who have suffered abuse. Child Advocacy Centre Niagara is a “safe place to tell your secrets” for children traumatized by abuse. A friendly, caring team of professionals work together in a private, safe, child-friendly place. Children are able to provide information that aids in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators. Follow-up counselling for children and non-offending family members is provided. Professional partners are Niagara Regional Police Service, Family and Children’s Services Niagara, Family Counselling Centre Niagara, and medical professionals.
Child Advocacy Centre Niagara is the first dedicated facility of its kind in Canada and serves all of Niagara’s twelve municipalities. When a child arrives at the Centre, they are accompanied by non-offending family members or caregivers. They are able to provide the details of their abuse in a private, comfortable environment that respects their vulnerability and offers caring support. Interviews happen only when the child is ready. These interviews are videotaped and aid in the investigation.
Niagara’s approach to child abuse investigation is recognized as a best practice model. Niagara is an early adopter, a leader in Canada, providing the first dedicated, stand alone facility where multidisciplinary services are coordinated in the best interest of the child. Advocacy centres have a real impact that is measurable not just in terms of benefits to victims and their families, but also in dollars. Research by the National Children’s Alliance in the United States confirms that an investigation into a child abuse case in a community with a child advocacy centre is 45% less expensive than in a community without one.
For more information on the CACN, visit its website: www.cacniagara.org