Time to speak up

29 10 2011

Our local police force released statistics about crime rates last week, garnering attention both for the drop in overall crimes and for the disturbing increase in certain categories. An increase in the number of local murders, in particular, has resulted  in a 4.2% overall increase in violent crimes vs last year. But the increases in sexual assaults against women and children, and in child pornography, are especially alarming.

Media coverage about the numbers (and some local blogs) quoted area politicians’ reactions to the figures, focused on the costs of policing and the difficulties in comparing numbers across municipalities. Hamilton isn’t Muskoka, one Councillor pointed out. The figures are to be reviewed in more detail. Let’s hope that review considers the costs of these crimes to our community not only in a financial context but in the price paid by victims and their families. Crimes against children, in particular, tear at the very fabric of our neighbourhoods and diminish us all as members of this community.

Hamilton is above the Canadian average for violent crimes. And our rate of sexual assaults against children as well as child pornography has been rising. Policing aside, what are we as a community doing about that? Are we talking about it, outraged by it, seeking solutions to change it? There is much to think about given these latest crime statistics. The thinking cannot be limited, however, to the sphere of law enforcement and municipal government. Conversations need to happen in private homes and coffee shops as well – what do we think about the sentencing handed out to those who prey on children? What messages might we send to make sure the vast majority’s outrage over these despicable crimes is understood?

The burden of finding and apprehending the criminals represented in the statistics rests on our Hamilton Police Service. But they cannot and should not stand as our only response to child abuse, woman abuse, or child pornography. These are crimes with roots in societal issues. These are crimes that send powerful messages, of the very worst kind, to kids. Our continued silence won’t do anything to change that.

You can’t be what you can’t see

23 10 2011

Here’s an exciting and worthy project aimed at empowering young women and changing the portrayal of young girls in the media…MissRepresentation addresses this in several important ways. If you’ve looked closely at a young girl lately you may have noticed the jeans, the makeup, the hair…much of it a predictable response to perceieved expectations that, for many, go hand in hand with being young and female in our society. Too many young girls spend tremendous effort and money trying to live up to something they’ll never achieve — and who wants them to? The potential cost of these misguided priorities is substantial – their confidence, their time, and a distraction away from the other skills or hobbies or attributes they could be pursuing. In fact, some young girls are literally dying to live up to “an image.”

Driven by the message delivered in the film Miss Representation, a documentary that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, the project is “a call-to-action campaign that seeks to empower women and girls to challenge limiting labels in order to realize their potential”. Among its goals are the eradication of gender stereotypes and the creation of lasting cultural and sociological change. The project includes an educational curriculum, film screenings, and an action agenda with options for supporting the campaign.

Check out the details at www.missrepresentation.org


Grateful in Wonderland

22 10 2011

What a night. A steady parade of hats, costumes, and grins arriving at the Ancaster Fairgrounds to travel “down the rabbit hole” and celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Community Child Abuse Council at the 2011 Mad Hatter’s Ball. By all accounts a good time was had by all, and the Council was the fortunate beneficiary of all the fun.

Regular readers of my blog know that this is an event I spearheaded in the early part of 2011. Watching it all unfold last night was heartwarming. The tally of proceeds isn’t in yet, but money aside it was truly inspiring to see the merriment and hear the laughter in a crowd brought together by a very sad need (fighting child abuse). As I said from the stage, it’s tough to be celebratory when you’re the Community Child Abuse Council and families turn to you in the wake of sexual abuse. But those little victories and

heart-swelling success stories that unfold on a regular basis at the Council are ones that must be shared and celebrated. That’s why, from the very start, we set out to host a “party with a purpose” rather than any other sort of fundraising event.

My personal thanks to friends and family, colleagues, and Council supporters who came out to attend the festivities and spend money in support of the cause. And my very sincere gratitude to those, including friends and family, who gave their time and considerable talents as volunteers before, during, and after the event. What an amazing team of volunteers the evening brought together! I appreciate your support so very much.

Pictures from the event will be posted on the Mad Hatter’s Ball web site: www.the2011mhb.com


A party with a purpose!

5 10 2011

It’s October, time for leaves to turn colour, for pumpkin pies, and for wardrobe changeovers. It’s also Child Abuse Prevention Month. And that means it’s time for The Mad Hatter’s Ball!

No ordinary fundraising gala dinner, this. It’s a party with a purpose. For one night only, the Ancaster Fairgrounds’ Marritt Hall will become Wonderland for a gathering like no other, featuring dinner, live music, dancing, casino, cash bar, and additional fun. It’s all in support of the Community Child Abuse Council, marking its 35th anniversary this year.

Full details can be found at: www.the2011mhb.com. Tickets are $75 pp and can be purchased online, or by calling 905-523-1020 ext. 10. Tables of 8 are also available.

Costumes are encouraged, but hats are essential. It’s the Mad Hatter’s Ball, after all. So find a topper, dust off your dancing shoes, and come out to play for a very good cause. You’ll be joining a great group of committed supporters who know how important the Council’s programs and services are to young people impacted by trauma and abuse. They include Chief of Police, Glenn De Caire (Honourary Patron), Jason “The Hatter” Farr (MC), a stellar line-up of musicians (all volunteering their talents) and community supporters with big hearts.

Hope to see you there!

October is Child Abuse Prevention Month

2 10 2011

To educate yourself about child abuse, and for information about what each of us can do, please visit www.childabusecouncil.on.ca.

To support the work of the Community Child Abuse Council, marking its 35th anniversary this year, join the fun on October 21st at the Mad Hatter’s Ball: www.the2011mhb.com.