Why Calgary Needs a Child Advocacy Centre
Child abuse is something no one wants to talk about. It happens in Calgary and surrounding area. Everyday. Child abuse knows no limits – it transcends all backgrounds, walks of life, all cultures. Children and families are ashamed, broken and silenced.
Child and youth victims of sexual and physical abuse deserve the best possible response when they find the courage and opportunity to disclose abuse. That's why agencies involved with children and families in Calgary are working together to make a difference in the lives of children and families affected by abuse.
The Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) adopts a seamless, coordinated and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child and youth victims of abuse. The newly established Calgary Child Advocacy Centre will be there for vulnerable children and their parents. It is anticipated that the creation of the CAC will contribute to efforts to raise awareness of child abuse in our community and also contribute to increased reporting of abuse incidents.
This collaborative partnership brings together the investigative strength of the following organizations, under one roof:
- the Calgary Police Service
- the Calgary and Area Child and Family Services Authority (CFSA)
- The CFSA is delegated by Alberta Human Services to provide a wide range of services to strengthen families and keep children and youth safe and protected.
- Alberta Health Services – Calgary Zone
- Alberta Justice Crown Prosecutor's Office
CACs are recognized internationally as an effective and efficient way to support child and youth victims of sexual and physical assault throughout the criminal justice process. The first CAC was created in Huntsville, Alabama in 1985. Since then, hundreds of jurisdictions in North America and around the world have adopted this model in order to better meet the needs of child and youth victims.
Through extensive research, it has been shown that CACs improve experiences for children who have been abused. Their experience at a CAC is designed to support their healing and assist them in recovering from the severe stress and trauma of abuse. CACs have also been shown to increase collaboration in child abuse cases, reduce costs and speed up prosecutions. This collaboration assists both the agencies charged with protecting children and youth and law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating criminal activity.
By the numbers:
- In 2010, the CFSA investigated nearly 10,000 cases involving children and youth in the Calgary Region. These are cases with and without criminal involvement involving abuse, emotional injury, neglect and situations where a child's survival, security or development is endangered.
- In 2010, the Child At Risk Response Team (CARRT), which operates in partnership with the CFSA and Calgary Police Service, responded to nearly 1500 calls for service involving children under 14 years old who were at risk of emotional and physical abuse and neglect.
- The Calgary Police Service Child Abuse Unit is involved with incidents of severe physical abuse, including broken bones, burns and choking and investigations of severe sexual abuse of children under the age of 14 – in 2010, there was a total of 254 child abuse investigations. Of these, almost 15% were physical abuse and the remaining 85% were sexual abuse.
- In general, police-reported data used by Statistics Canada for 2009, children and youth under 18 were most likely to be sexually victimized or physically assaulted by someone they knew (85%) of incidents.