I am saddened to read the news of the system, and society, failing yet another child, and consequently enabling the abuse to continue.
The specifics may be different, but not the story. I hear this regularly through the ASCA (Adult Survivors of Child Abuse) peer support group in St John’s. History has and continues to repeat itself, over and over.
The decision-makers need to look at the recommendations coming from the Child and Youth Care Advocate’s Office, during past investigations.
Trained professionals could have better diagnosed this situation and if these frontline professionals are not trained, we have to ask why.
The fact that a 12-year-old child was pregnant was a huge red flag. Many questions should have been asked, while bearing in mind that a scared child will say whatever they are told to say. A trained professional would recognize the signs and would know the questions to be asked, as well as how to ask these questions. They would also recognize the significance in talking to the child without the adult being present.
Families and communities need to share in the responsibility of protecting all children. These are the people that spend the most time with the victims and with the most potential to discover red flags. Sadly, we still often hear of people coming forward, after the damage has been done. If an adult suspects a child is being abused, they have a moral responsibility to speak up for the child; better to have been wrong than to allow the potential abuse to continue. The consequences have a far greater rippling effect on the community when there has been no intervention.
Equally important, children need be trained. With many parents and caregivers not comfortable talking about sex, it only makes sense for this training to be implemented in schools where no child can be left out. Children should know what constitutes sexual abuse; they should know that it is wrong and inappropriate. They should know the protocol and that there’s a safe system of support people wanting to help them.
Education is essential on every level — starting with the children and going all the way to the decision-makers — if we are ever to prevent child sexual abuse.
Bev Moore Davis
Miles For Smiles Foundation