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Putting Children First

Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime marks National Child Day

OTTAWA (Ontario), November 20, 2009 - Canada's Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Steve Sullivan, today marked National Child Day by urging the federal government to provide stronger supports for child victims.

"National Child Day reminds us of our duty to protect, care for and respect our children," said Sullivan. "There are hundreds of dedicated people who work every day to help improve children's lives, including child victims. In talking with these incredible people, I have learned a lot about the unique trauma child victims suffer and about the difference that child-friendly services, like Child Advocacy Centres (CAC), can make in helping these children heal."

National Child Day was designated by the Government of Canada in order to recognize the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). The Convention spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have, including the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; and to be protected from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation.

The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime has made child victims a priority since it opened its doors in 2007. This June, the Office released Every Image, Every Child, its first-ever in-depth report on the issue of Internet-facilitated child sexual abuse. The Report makes nine recommendations to the federal government and describes how CACs provide a family-friendly multi-disciplinary approach to putting children first when investigating and treating abused children. In the Report, Sullivan recommends that the federal government work with its provincial and municipal counterparts to develop a strategy to expand the network of CAC models in communities across the country.

"Most of these kids will never tell anyone about the abuse they are suffering, but when they do, when they take that leap of faith in us, we need to be there to catch them. The best safety net we can offer an abused child is a coordinated, multi-disciplined response that puts their needs first," said Sullivan. "CACs are proven to work. We know that these centres result in more charges laid, better quality of evidence, more guilty pleas and higher convictions rates with more appropriate sentences. More importantly, we know they help children and their families heal. But with only a handful across the country, not all kids have the opportunity to visit a CAC. We need to ensure that children from coast to coast receive the treatment they need to recover from abuse."

In addition to his recommendations, Sullivan has asked the federal government to set aside five million dollars to help communities looking to establish a CAC.

The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime helps victims to address their needs, promotes their interests and makes recommendations to the federal government on issues that negatively impact victims.

Media contact:

Christina McDonald
Telephone: 613-941-3428
Email: christina.mcdonald@ombudsman.gc.ca