OACAS - The Voice
December 2011

In This Issue

  • Standing up for Kids
  • World Aids Day (Dec. 1)
  • National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
    (Dec .6)
  • Holiday Hope for children, youth and families
  • No Forced Kisses for Kids: a Holiday Safety Tip for Families
  • Special Holiday greeting from Mary Ballantyne, Executive Director of OACAS

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Standing up for Kids - Toronto's Children Aid Societies recognize local heroes

It was a routine day like any other for TTC bus driver Chris Paulson. He had been driving his bus along a busy downtown route midday one Saturday, when suddenly he noticed a very young child who appeared to be wandering unsupervised on the street, wearing only a diaper. Pulling over his bus, Paulson stepped out of the vehicle to investigate further. He picked up the child to ensure he was out of harm’s way. The police arrived and took the child into their care until a Children’s Aid Society of Toronto worker arrived. It is likely that other people noticed this young child, as he was wandering alone on a Saturday morning in a busy neighbourhood, but only Paulson chose to do something about it.

Chris Paulson was one of two deserving winners of this year’s Tenth Annual Stand Up for Kids Awards held on Nov.8, 2011. The awards were presented by Toronto’s four Children’s Aid Societies. “Mr. Paulson’s keen sense of observation and his decision to take action to protect a child embody both the spirit of the Stand Up for Kids Awards and our Child Abuse Prevention Month Campaign; keeping kids safe is everybody’s business,” said Mary A. McConville, Executive Director, Catholic Children’s Aid Society.

Toronto’s Children’s Aid Societies also honoured the achievements of Dr. Johanne Roberge, Director of the Psychiatry Emergency and Crisis Service at The Hospital for Sick Children. She has dedicated her career to helping children and adolescents who are at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, or who are in crisis. Dr. Roberge also provides direct consultations with child welfare workers, providing them with practical guidance and clinical advice to help achieve positive outcomes for children and families.

“Both Mr. Paulson and Dr. Roberge have demonstrated their strong commitment to not just our community but to looking out for the well-being of the children in our community. My hope is that others will hear their stories and become inspired to get involved when a child, young person or family needs help,” said David Rivard, Chief Executive Officer, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto.

World Aids Day (Dec. 1)

Many countries, International Organizations and individuals around the world commemorated World Aids Day on Dec.1.

Why World Aids Day?
It may be hard to imagine, but 34 million people around the world are living with HIV or AIDS. Think of it this way: the number of people living with this disease is the same as the entire population of Canada. The death toll is just as staggering: about 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related causes in 2010. In Canada, it is estimated that more than 65,000 people were living with the disease in 2008, and approximately one quarter of those people don't know that they are infected, and could, unknowingly, be putting others at risk.

While these figures can be despairing, there is hope in emerging research, advancements in medication for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as more and more information networks, communities and resources for support and de-stigmatization of living as an HIV-positive person.  

Living with HIV/AIDS is a struggle for not only adults, but children and youth who are HIV-positive as well. Healthy Housing is one organization that performs outreach for youth living with HIV/AIDS as part of their many support services and work to provide safe housing for HIV-positive individuals.

For more information on HIV/AIDS and how you can get involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, please visit the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (Dec. 6)

On Dec.6, 1989 in what is now known as the Montreal Massacre at the École Polytechnique, the following 14 women were shot and killed in an act of gender-based violence: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward , Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

Consequently, in Canada Dec.6 of every year is now known as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. Though the Montreal Massacre took place decades ago, even in Canadian society, gender-based violence is still a major social issue, and one that directly affects the well-being of children and youth. According to the  OACAS practice guide Critical Connections: Where woman Abuse and Child Safety Intersect: “Research suggests that in 30 to 60 percent of families where woman abuse or child maltreatment is identified, it is likely that both forms of abuse exist (Edleson, 1999).”

Critical Connections is grounded in many principles, one of which is that ‘Children have a right to live lives free of violence and the emotional harm that results from exposure to woman abuse’. As work continues in the violence-prevention field to try to achieve this outcome, December is a time to remember not only the 14 women who were murdered in the Montreal Massacre, but the many women in Canada who suffer violence and abuse in or outside of their homes year-round. Continuing to raise awareness about woman abuse in an effort to prevent and combat its effects is one way to work to keep children safe.

Holiday hope for children, youth and families

During the holiday season, those children, youth and families who work with their local Children’s Aid are more in need of food voucher and gifts. Community members can ensure children and youth can have gifts for the holiday season by donating to their local Children’s Aid holiday program. These donations may include food vouchers to ensure families and those most in need are able to have enough food for the holidays. To share your holiday cheer with children, youth and families who are in need, contact your local Children’s Aid to see how you can help.  As we’re nearing the end of December, keep in mind that these needs are not confined to the holiday season and that your help can be a boon to children, youth and families into the New Year or anytime of the year.

No Forced Kisses for Kids: a Holiday Safety Tip for Families

Holidays for many are a wonderful time full of sharing, joy, family and lots of affection. However, just like adults have individual boundaries and comfort levels with touching, so do children. Doing Right By Our Kids reminds us this holiday season that expecting children to set aside their boundaries to not disappoint a relative can send mixed messages and be a threat to their safety and understanding of healthy touching.

“Even if a relative is offended when a child does not want to kiss or hug them, this is an important time to keep in mind the bottom line — kids need to learn from an early age that touch or play for affection and fun should be the choice of BOTH people, safe, allowed by the adults in charge, and not a secret. These core safety rules should be respected in all situations. It’s confusing for kids to try to set aside their feelings of discomfort for certain kinds of affection or teasing in the name of good manners, since it gives young people a contradictory message about their boundaries.”

To read more, click here.

Happy Holidays and Joyeuses Fêtes from the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies!
Special Holiday Greeting from Mary Ballantyne, Executive Director of OACAS

Throughout 2011, we have truly appreciated your support in working together to make life better for children and youth in Ontario. Our work would not be possible without your contributions.

From everyone at OACAS, we wish you every happiness for the holiday season and the coming year, and look forward to connecting with you in 2012.

To a safe and special holiday season,

Mary Ballantyne
Executive Director, OACAS
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