May 20, 2010
For Immediate Release
Canadian Centre for Child Protection announces a new sexual abuse prevention program for child-serving organizations across Canada
Winnipeg, MB: Today child-serving organizations across the country are safer as result of a new program aimed at preventing child sexual abuse. The first of its kind in Canada, Commit to Kids is a program to help organizations create safe environments for children. More than 10,000 child-serving organizations will be receiving a free child sexual abuse prevention program on behalf of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection in partnership with the federal government and the Province of Manitoba.
"Child-serving organizations are committed to providing safe and nurturing environments," says Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. "However, because they work with children, they are vulnerable to attracting employees/volunteers who may want to access and sexually abuse children or who may have inappropriate boundaries and relationships with children. As such, organizations must become more vigilant in establishing guidelines and protocols to protect children in their care."
The Commit to Kids program provides policies, strategies and a step-by-step plan for reducing the risk of child sexual abuse, encouraging organizations to take an active, participatory role in protecting children in their care.
"Commit to Kids will help organizations reduce the likelihood that an offender will successfully gain access to and sexually abuse a child," says McDonald. "It will also help organizations to more quickly identify, terminate and intervene if abuse has occurred."
"We must keep the safety of children paramount and the Government of Canada remains committed to protecting our children," says Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews. "Our government will continue to support programs like Commit to Kids which provides Canadian child-serving organizations with comprehensive strategies and information to protect children in their care from victimization."
As part of the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet, Public Safety Canada partners with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and has contributed $250,000 towards this new program which will assist child-serving organizations.
Last year the federal government announced a renewed commitment to work with partners through the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet. The Government of Canada is investing $71 million over five years to help ensure that the National Strategy remains the success that it is today.
Commit to Kids is easy to use, and can be implemented by organizations of any size. The program helps organizations create a child protection manual, and includes a CD with sample policies, plans, and reproducible forms that can be easily amended and used by organizations.
"Protecting our children must be the primary goal for all of us. By improving recruitment and management practices at child service organizations we are going a long way toward ensuring these are safe environments," says Gord Mackintosh, Manitoba's Minister of Family Services and Consumer Affairs. "It's no longer good enough to do a criminal record check and leave it at that."
The program is unique in that it also helps organizations identify and address inappropriate behaviour. While most organizations have policies to deal with child sexual abuse, many struggle with how to address grey areas such as misconduct and the grooming of children. Commit to Kids will help prevent abuse through this education process.
"The Commit to Kids program demonstrates the importance of child safety education in the community," says Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Big Sisters Big Brothers of Canada. "Our national association supports all like-minded organizations that encompass child safety as a key priority in training materials, community education programs, and outreach efforts."
"We take the safety of the children enrolled in our programs seriously," says Diana Rozos, Director of the University of Winnipeg Students' Association daycare. "In keeping with the traditions of prevention, we think Commit to Kids is an invaluable resource for organizations such as ours in helping keep children safe."
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