News and Media

SCHOOLS MUST GO BEYOND THE CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK

October 14, 2011
For immediate release

'Commit to Kids' program will help schools reduce students' risk of victimization

"I accept, as both teachers' unions and school boards have properly stressed, that the incidence of sexual misconduct is small relative to the large number of teachers and students in our school system. However, the incidence is certainly frequent enough and serious enough to deserve more attention than it presently receives. The harm caused by sexual misconduct can be devastating. If our schools are truly to be safe and nurturing places for children to learn and grow, the problem must be actively addressed, and every effort must be made to protect our students."

- Justice Sydney L. Robins, following the release of his April 2000 Report: 'Protecting Our Students: A Review to Identify and Prevent Sexual Misconduct in Ontario Schools'

Winnipeg, MB: A recent Toronto Star series that revealed numerous instances of sexual abuse of students highlights the need for Canada's school boards to go beyond the criminal record and child abuse registry checks and implement a comprehensive child sexual abuse prevention program in their schools.

"We know the vast majority of educators are dedicated and committed to providing a safe environment for students. However, as the recent Star series shows - more than a decade following former Justice Sydney Robins' Protecting our Students report - students are being victimized," said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. "While the Star series focused on Ontario incidents - child sexual abuse is a national problem that all schools need to be addressing."

The Star investigation revealed cases of teachers grooming and sexually abusing students, sending sexually charged emails/texts, as well as cases of teachers caught making and possessing child pornography. In one case, a teacher abused male students as young as 10 for more than a decade before he was recently stopped.

"As adults, we all have a responsibility to protect children. These incidents serve as a reminder to all schools that there is more that can and should be done to keep students safe and reduce their risk of victimization," said McDonald.

The Canadian Centre has created the Commit to Kids child sexual abuse prevention program to help schools and other child-serving organizations create safer environments for the children in their care. The program has been reviewed by many leading experts, including former justice Sydney Robins, who released a report in April 2000 called "Protecting our Students: A review to identify and prevent sexual misconduct in Ontario schools." With support from the federal government and Bell Canada, the non-profit children's charity has to-date distributed more than 11,000 copies of the program free-of-charge across Canada since its launch in 2010 - helping organizations to:

  • evaluate risks that exist;
  • teach employees/volunteers the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour;
  • establish clear boundaries between employees/volunteers and children;
  • ensure that allegations of sexual abuse are handled in a sensitive, timely and effective manner;
  • understand their legal obligations to report child sexual abuse;
  • provide employees/volunteers with specific strategies on how to prevent abuse;
  • prevent child sexual abuse through increased awareness and education; and,
  • ensure the highest standard of practice when working with children.

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If you are a member of the media and would like to arrange an interview with one of our spokespeople please contact our communications team:

Communications, Canadian Centre for Child Protection

Phone:
204-945-8074
204-801-2979 (Cell)

Email:
communications@protectchildren.ca