Unacceptable realities…points to ponder

29 08 2014

Something more personal for this post…an update after a considerable hiatus from blogging. I blame Facebook, in part, because of the distraction it provided to this newby. It took several months to discover what I really wanted to get from the site, and how to make my participation meaningful. But it has been my busy professional life that has taken most of my time and attention. Always rewarding, at times frustrating, ever changing, it both commands my full attention while I’m “in it” and necessitates downtime that is just that.

The sexual abuse of children continues to make headlines, along with these same crimes against women. Issues of gender inequality, gender-based violence, exploitation, pornography, cyber bullying, rape culture, sexting, and the debate over the educational curriculum for sexuality and human relations have become so commonplace in news reports that I worry we are numbing to their seriousness. And, on most days, I am hard-pressed to understand how these vitally important issues are not front and centre in our political and public policy discussions. These very issues are the bedrock of my work, each and every day. I notice the headlines, pay attention to the news coverage, am saddened by the disclosures, and outraged by the appalling lack of change. These constant reminders of the work still to be done creep into my off-work hours, make regular appearances in my dreams, and urge me onward. No, I am not obsessed or inappropriately burdened by these unacceptable realities. I manage to keep a healthy (most days) balance. But these remain unacceptable realities.

A friend told me recently that there was a disturbing pattern to many of my posts on Facebook. He said he understood why so many of my posts related to the issues that relate to my professional work, but he “just couldn’t read all of them” and found many of them “too disturbing”. And, sadly, I know he’s not the only one.

So, by way of updating this blog and sharing what has been keeping me busy of late, here are a few points to ponder:

  • today, here in my own community (as in many others), 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually victimized before their 18th birthday
  • in Hamilton, the city I am so proud to live in, overall violent crime has decreased but not sexual crimes against women and children or child pornography
  • the agency I lead, the Community Child Abuse Council, employs the equivalent of 3.2 full-time staff and a team of consulting clinicians who provide direct trauma treatment to children and youth experiencing the trauma that results from sexual abuse – we have a perpetual wait list
  • we also work to address the unique mental health needs of immigrant and refugee children and youth who are experiencing symptoms of trauma – from war-torn countries, experiences in refugee camps, violence, loss, and upheaval – there is a waiting list for this program too
  • we turn every dollar provided by government towards these services into $1.70 – in blunt terms, we spend a significant amount of time and energy raising money to serve the children who need our help, and on any given day the provision of these crucial services may well depend on bake sales and raffles
  • the Council has an incredibly generous circle of supporters with whom I am in regular contact  – their commitment to making sure these essential services are available to youngsters in our community is beyond admirable, yet they are but a tiny proportion of the caring population in Hamilton

children_threatsI share these points not to claim any undue burden or regret – I love the work I am doing and I could not be more committed to this cause. I share these points for consideration by people like my friend who bristled at the content of my posts on Facebook. Or for any readers of this blog who may have wondered why I had been absent of late. I share them because it is important to me that the nature of the Council’s work be understood – an entire community’s response to the sexual abuse of children and youth is resting almost exclusively on the shoulders of one small agency. How fortunate we are to have an exceptionally specialized and seasoned clinical team of experts doing this work. How wonderful it is to know that this agency is accomplishing great things on a daily basis thanks to the tireless efforts of staff who care deeply and volunteers who are passionate. How reassuring to know that the Board of Directors at the Council is comprised of individuals with integrity, careful stewards of public funds, and diligent ambassadors for a cause far too often overshadowed.

Yes, many days I am tired. And I do get frustrated. But I continue to give my all to this remarkable organization and the youngsters it serves because the work we are doing is making a difference. Every day I see the results of treatment programs that are effective. And every day I am fortunate to be around some of the bravest young people you’ll ever meet. They are what matters. Helping them to get beyond the trauma, heal and move forward, that is what counts. We believe thriving children create thriving communities, so everything we do to help our young clients get back on track is ultimately an investment in the future of our community. That inspires me, that commands my attention, and that keeps me focused.

If you find me posting a recipe or a travel link on Facebook, you’ll know it’s been an especially good day.

Postcript:

To date, the most-searched phrase that lands visitors here on my web site is “children girls porn”. Sadly ironic, and another reason for this important work to not only continue but to knock it out of the park. You can help – have a conversation, share resources, point others towards these issues, support the work that is so important to ensuring our youngest community members can go on to be thriving, contributing future leaders.

Advertisements




CAPPY: Child Abuse Prevention and Protection of Youth

12 07 2014

Tomorrow, Sunday July 13th, marks the 23rd annual CAPPY Ride to raise funds for the programs and services offered by the Community Child Abuse Council. At the moment, it looks entirely possible the ride will be a damp one. But the motorcycle community supporting this event comes out for the cause moreso than the ride itself. Yes, it’s a popular, police escorted scenic route and a tremendous show of 2-wheel (and sometimes more) camaraderie. But those who come out know

that the ride wouldn’t happen if we didn’t need to do more for children and youth who are sexually abused – more treatment, more education, more prevention. They know that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually victimized before reaching their 18th birthdays. And they know that too many youngsters, some as young as 3 years, wait far too long for trauma treatment after experiencing sexual abuse.Entering my third year with the Council, one of development and bold planning

A tip of the hat to all those who ride for this important and worthwhile cause. And a shout out to the many amazing volunteers, sponsors, donors, and musicians who make the event such a tremendous success year after year.

Registration and breakfast start at 8:30 am at the Ancaster Fairgrounds. All are welcome.

For details, visit www.cappyride.ca

cappy





A Win-Win-Win for Children, Families, Communities

30 09 2013

It’s about helping children after the trauma of abuse. The focus is supporting parents and caregivers. And we all benefit.

That’s the winning combination behind the Community Child Abuse Council’s entry in the AVIVA Community Fund competition this year.  It’s a simple concept that, with your support, could do a great deal of good.

The Community Parent Support Program

  • A series of facilitated group programs to support parents and caregivers whose children have been sexually victmized, or who have problem sexual behaviours (including sibling incest).
  • Developed by an experienced team of professionals and offered by the Community Child Abuse Council over the past several years – with solid results.
  • Parents (including foster parents) and caregivers (including grandparents) learn together and get the support they need to understand what their children are going through. In a safe and supportive environment, they strengthen their knowledge about sexual abuse and its impact on families, and enhance their ability to support their children. And, importantly, their involvement in these groups has been shown to have a positive impact on children’s treatment outcomes.

Now, the Council has an opportunity to share this proven model with others, supporting parents and caregivers in any community (even remote ones and those without specialized treatment options for children). The proposal will see the program published, packaged, and distributed widely, together with the materials and supports needed by facilitators to deliver these groups in any community. These innovative resources will be affordable, adaptable, and ready to implement in any community, anywhere. And, to make this a win-win-win scenario, any revenue from the project will be reinvested into the Council’s child abuse prevention, education, and treatment programs. That means more treatment for local kids in need, more prevention work, and more community-focused educational initiatives.

Voting begins today – September 30th – and it’s easy to vote. Just go to the AVIVA Community Fund web site, find the “register” button at the top right of the page (takes 30 seconds, and only required on your first visit), and once you’re registered, select the Community Parent Support Program and vote!

Here’s the link: http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf17152#.UkHqha-RE2Y.email

You can also search for the Council’s project on the AVIVA Community Fund web site using (idea) number is ACF17152.

Please tell your friends, use your social media connections, and help generate as much support as possible for this proposal – with your help, and enough votes, it will move on to the next rounds and one step closer to the funding that will make this important project possible.

In the first round, you can vote 15 times (but only once per day for the same project). So, please, use those votes to help put valuable and vital resources in the hands of caring communities where they can do the most good for families who need them.

Thank you so very much.





May 7 is National Child and Youth Mental Health Day

7 05 2013

When you see a child today, whether playing in the park or getting off the school bus, stop to remember this: mental health is largely invisible – you can’t identify a child with mental health challenges simply by appearance. And remember, too, that one-in-five Canadian children has a mental illness severe enough to impair their ability to function.

It is estimated that 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness each year. More than 70 per cent of adults living with a mental illness say the onset occurred before age 18 (Mental Health Commission of Canada). Take a moment today to think about the importance of mental health in all our lives, and think about ways you can support the mental health of kids in your circle of influence. Twenty percent of the children in our lives will benefit – and that will be visible and life-changing.

child mental health





Campaign officially launched…and you can help!

9 04 2012

The Community Child Abuse Council’s Heart of the Open campaign kicked off officially today, beginning an unprecedented effort to raise funds in support of child abuse education, prevention, and treatment programs. Details about the campaign – and how you can help – are  posted on the Council’s web site: www.childabusecouncil.on.ca.

 

In partnership with the 2012 RBC Canadian Open, the Council is selling “inside the ropes” experience packages, corporate hospitality packages, and group tickets that get golf fans up close and into the action for the RBC Canadian Open’s return to the Hamilton Golf & Country Club, July 23-29. The Council’s team of volunteers will also be on-site at the tournament selling reuseable water bottles and purple awareness ribbons. Proceeds from all campaign activities will support vital prevention, education and treatment programs for child and youth victims of abuse and trauma.

A sizeable lead-off gift from RBC will enable the Council to enhance its current programs and services, but our community has an opportunity to join with RBC and realize an even greater result by supporting the Council’s campaign. Children as young as 3 years of age are currently waiting several months for trauma treatment, and the education and prevention initiatives so crucial to fighting child abuse are in need of financial investment. Remember, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually victimized before reaching adulthood. Here in the Hamilton area, that translates into a significant

number whose lives are affected – shouldn’t we be able to help each and every one of them?

We may never see another opportunity like this one to respond as a community and invest in the lives of our youngest and most vulnerable members – please check out the many ways you can help to support the campaign, and help the Council in its efforts to create a community free of child abuse

.





The Heart of the OPEN

1 04 2012

The eyes of the golfing world will be on Hamilton this July as the RBC Canadian Open returns to the Hamilton Golf & Country Club.

But the heart of the Open, this year, is linked to helping child and youth victims of sexual abuse and trauma here in our community. RBC has chosen the Community Child Abuse Council as the Local Charity Partner for the 2012 RBC Canadian Open, and committed a sizeable financial investment to help the organization in its mission – to reduce the incidence and impact of child abuse and to promote the safe and healthy development of children. This is truly a gift wrapped in hope, and represents a significant opportunity for this community to make great strides in its support of vulnerable and victimized youngsters. By supporting the Council in its partnership with the RBC Canadian Open, the Hamilton region has an unprecedented chance to turn an already generous donation from RBC into something bigger – and to see the legacy of the 2012 Canadian Open be a lasting one for local children’s mental health.

The Council is about to launch a fundraising drive – The Heart of the OPEN Campaign – to engage the support of the community and to involve Hamiltonians in this partnership with RBC and the Canadian Open. Some of the campaign’s activities are directly tied to the Open, including advance ticket sales, exclusive VIP and “inside the ropes” experience packages, and on-site sales. Limited edition hats will be sold in area RBC branches in the weeks leading up to the Open with proceeds going to the campaign. Other campaign efforts are bringing together some of RBC’s corporate clients, community leaders, and friends of the Council in a range of fundraising initiatives aimed at demonstrating that the Hamilton community can and will step up to support child abuse prevention, education, and treatment in partnership with RBC.

Campaign proceeds will help enhance treatment programs for child and youth victims of sexual abuse, expand parent support groups, and invest in proven prevention initiatives. The Community Child Abuse Council is unique in providing these specialized services in the Hamilton community, and continuously works to increase its capacity so that all children needing this help can receive it. A waiting list for treatment has been an ongoing challenge, with children as young as 3 years of age often waiting several months for clinical services. A robust campaign success will also enable the Council to secure a permanent home for its programs and services.

Statistics show that one in three girls and one in six boys is sexually victimized before reaching adulthood. In Hamilton, Chief Glenn De Caire of Hamilton Police Service has publicly referred to rising rates of sexual assaults against children and women, and child pornography, as “troubling” given otherwise declining rates of violent crime in the city. The trauma resulting from sexual victimization can have a lifelong and significant impact if not treated early and effectively. The scars of abuse can last decades and can impact generations.

The 2012 RBC Canadian Open will be held July 23-29 at Hamilton Golf & Country Club

An energetic campaign team comprised of volunteers from all corners of the community is now hard at work to ensure the success of this fundraising initiative. Their efforts, along with the generosity of RBC, bring much-needed attention to child maltreatment and a vital financial investment in the future of local children and youth.  To find out more about The Heart of the OPEN Campaign, to volunteer, or to support the cause, watch the Council’s web site for details ( www.childabusecouncil.on.ca). If you’re a golfer, a golf fan, or know others who are, you can help make the excitement of the Open (July 23 – 29 last long after the trophy has been claimed and the crowds have dispersed…be part of the Open and please support the Council’s campaign and help to make sure the legacy left by the 2012 RBC Canadian Open is one that invests in children and youth well into the future. If we as a community can match RBC’s investment we can take huge strides that are long overdue. Thank you!





Searching for Porn?

31 01 2011

I ask this question because, astoundingly, the statistics collected for this web page tell me that among the top search phrases that lead people to this page are those of people looking for porn. “Illegal girls” is one such phrase. “Young porn” is another. There are search phrases in Russian and others that include graphic references. Ironic isn’t it? A search for illegal images or pornographic content relating to children connects you to the web site of a consultant whose work includes partnering with the very agencies trying to stop child porn and support its victims!

If you found this page “by accident”, take a moment to look around this site before you continue your search for child pornography (you won’t find any here). Read some of my past posts about the damage done to children by our sexually toxic environment, and think about the part you are playing in inflicting that damage. Read about the agencies who are struggling to keep up with waiting lists for trauma treatment services that are in such huge demand. Ask yourself if you’ll still be interested in the same search parameters 3 or 5 years from now, and then (assuming the answer is no) think about whether a passing interest is worth the pain it causes (child porn + fans = kids + trauma). If the answer is yes, on the other hand, please seek help.