October is National Child Abuse Awareness Month, a time for all Albertans to improve their knowledge of how to recognize and protect children and youth from abuse and neglect.
“The safety and well-being of children is our number one priority. Every child and youth should be safe and live free of abuse and neglect,” said Children and Youth Services Minister Yvonne Fritz. “That is why it is so important for Albertans to recognize the signs of abuse and contact their local Child and Family Services Authority, delegated First Nations agency, or police if they suspect a child is being harmed. The confidential Child Abuse Hotline is available at 1-800-387-5437, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
There are a number of reasons why Albertans may not report child abuse, such as not knowing the signs of abuse, or how to make a report, or not wanting to become involved. But reports from neighbours, teachers, friends, family members and health professionals are critical to ensuring action is taken to assist children and youth who are being abused or neglected and keep them safe.
Child abuse transcends socioeconomic status, education and culture, and impacts every group in every community across the province. Abuse and neglect have life-altering effects and it is our collective duty to recognize the signs of child abuse and to report any suspicions about a child, youth or family. Looking for signs of abuse is especially important when families are experiencing emotional or financial stress that can increase the risk of abuse to children and youth.
There are a number of supports and services available through government and community programs to help families who are struggling with issues that may lead to child abuse or neglect. For more information about preventing child abuse and providing nurturing, safe environments for children and youth, visit www.child.alberta.ca.