This October marks the 25th anniversary of Child Abuse Prevention Month

Support the OACAS/CAS campaign and Dress Purple Day

On October 1, the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) and member agencies will launch the annual Child Abuse Prevention Month campaign to raise awareness about the role that everybody in the community plays in keeping kids safe, and the importance of calling Children’s Aid with concerns about the safety or well-being of a child or youth.

One of the key goals of the CAPM campaign is to address the myth that calling a Children’s Aid Society will lead to the separation of a child from their family. “What many people don’t understand is that in 97% of CAS investigations children remain in the home while we work with families that are struggling with parenting issues,” says Mary Ballantyne, CEO of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. “During our campaign we are raising awareness about how to identify child abuse and neglect, but we are also trying to provide people with more insight on how a call to Children’s Aid actually helps children and families.”

There are many types of child abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and exposure to domestic violence. Child neglect is also considered an equally serious child protection concern. Research shows that the impact of neglect on child development and well-being can be more damaging than any other kind of abuse. Approximately 90% of the families that receive child protection services from Children’s Aid Societies are struggling with chronic needs such as trauma, poverty, mental health issues, and addictions.

Dress Purple Day

As part of the Child Abuse Prevention Month campaign, communities, Boards of Education, and schools across Ontario will Dress Purple on Tuesday, October 24 to collectively speak up and share the message that child abuse and neglect can be prevented and that help is available. Boards of Education and schools are key partners in protecting the rights of children and youth to safety and well-being, and in helping families that may need support to keep their children safe. A teacher may be the only “helping” adult that a child encounters on a daily basis.

To support Dress Purple Day in schools, this year OACAS has developed classroom resources to support teachers in engaging their students in conversations about child abuse and neglect, and how to ask for help from adults in the community. These resources, developed for OACAS by Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre and Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society, support key recommendations from the Inquests into the deaths of Jeffrey Baldwin and Katelynn Sampson, including the need to develop age appropriate curriculum for students about child abuse and neglect, raise awareness about duty to report with school staff and the public, and support collaborative projects between CASs and Boards of Education.

This year, the Dress Purple Classroom Resources are directed at students in junior kindergarten to grade five classes, with the goal of expanding support to middle and high school grades next year. The classroom resources are built around the theme “It takes a village to keep kids safe.”

How You Can Support the CAPM/Dress Purple Day campaigns: