News and Media

BEYOND THE CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK: CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

January 20, 2011
For Immediate Release

New Commit to Kids program to help child-serving organizations create safer environment

TORONTO, ON: The Canadian Centre for Child Protection, in partnership with the Toronto Police Service and Public Safety Canada, announced a new public awareness campaign that will run in the GTA urging child-serving organizations to adopt the Commit to Kids program. Designed for all organizations that work with children, this innovative child sexual abuse prevention program is a comprehensive risk-management approach that goes beyond criminal record checks and child abuse registry checks.

"Today's launch is another outstanding example of how our government is partnering with concerned Canadians to build stronger families and communities. We are delighted to work together with vital programs like Commit to Kids that ensure the most vulnerable in our society are protected," said Minister Toews. "Child victimization of any kind is a horrifying crime. We will continue to introduce new measures to get tough on child predators, encourage organizations to plan ahead in requesting and waiting for criminal record checks before hiring individuals who work with children and support initiatives like Commit to Kids that together strengthen public safety."

"Since the vast majority of child sexual offenders have never come in contact with a police officer, we are making it a priority to help raise awareness of what organizations should be doing to help keep kids safe," said Chief William Blair of the Toronto Police Service. "We are proud to partner with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to promote such an invaluable child sexual abuse prevention program that will better prepare organizations to protect the children under their care."

Created by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, the program is based on the knowledge that sex offenders seek employment and volunteer opportunities within child-serving organizations as a way to access kids. Easy to use and suitable for organizations of any size, the program provides organizations with policies, strategies and step-by-step plans for reducing the risk of child sexual abuse; and it helps organizations more quickly identify, terminate and intervene if abuse has occurred.

"Child sexual abuse happens when the opportunity exists," said Signy Arnason of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. "If organizations aren't equipped with the knowledge and skills to identify risk, then the kids in their care will continue to be at risk. Criminal record checks and background checks are not enough. The goal of this public awareness campaign is to provide a wake-up call to all child-serving organizations that they need to raise the bar and do more to protect kids in their care."

The Commit to Kids public awareness campaign will run throughout the next month, and features billboards, digital signage and transit advertising. Information on the program is also being provided to GTA community centres and other child-serving organizations through a direct mail campaign.

The Commit to Kids program was made possible through financial support from Public Safety Canada. For more information on the child abuse prevention program, please visit www.commit2kids.ca. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection Inc. is a charitable organization dedicated to the personal safety of all children. To learn more, visit www.protectchildren.ca.

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

 

BACKGROUNDER: Commit to Kids

Easy to use and suitable for organizations of any size, the Commit to Kids program provides child-serving organizations with policies, strategies and step-by-step plans for reducing the risk of child sexual abuse.

Commit to Kids can help organizations:

  • Prevent child sexual abuse through increased awareness and education
  • Evaluate risks that exist
  • Teach employees/volunteers (who will then teach children) the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour
  • Provide employees/volunteers with specific strategies on how to prevent abuse
  • Design programs that focus on child safety and supervision
  • 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 to a child welfare and/or law enforcement agency
  • Ensure the highest standard of practice when working with children

The Commit to Kids program includes:

  • A training kit for organizations, including information on: child sexual abuse; risk assessment and management; creating and enforcing a code of conduct for employees/volunteers; reporting disclosures of sexual abuse and addressing inappropriate behaviour; and policies on hiring, supervising, and training
  • A 30-minute training video and presentations for employees, volunteers, and parents
  • A sample child protection manual, complete with draft policies and procedures, that can easily be amended to suit the needs of individual organizations
  • A guide for parents that teaches them about the issue of child sexual abuse and helps them choose safe programs for their children
  • Supplemental tools such as reporting cards, website information, checklists and worksheets, and statistics