April 18-24 is Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Week in British Columbia, a time to recognize the devastating impacts of child sexual abuse and the importance of working together to keep children safe.
Child sexual abuse is a serious social problem, with the most conservative research estimates indicating at least 10 per cent of boys and 20 per cent of girls are victimized. Sexual abuse may be associated with a host of personal, social and health problems, including the loss of self-esteem, relationship problems, mental-health problems, problematic substance abuse, economic hardship, homelessness and suicide.
Public awareness, community education and clinical services for children and families, including those provided by Sexual Abuse Intervention Programs (SAIP) throughout the province, are key to addressing the issue.
The B.C. government supports a range of prevention and intervention services, most recently providing $485,000 toward the launch of the Indigenous Response to Sexual Abuse program, created by the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres. The new program, which focuses on prevention, is available at the Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Nanaimo.
As well, the Ministry of Children and Family Development's South Vancouver Island Region is in the process of broadening the SAIP Program which includes development of a dedicated service for Aboriginal children and youth in addition to development of a new service for sexually intrusive youth.
In 2007, training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for trauma related to sexual abuse was offered to SAIP providers. The training is now also being provided to child and youth mental-health workers who work with contracted SAIP agencies.
B.C. also operates a provincewide Helpline for Children that can be reached toll-free from anywhere in the province by dialling 310-1234 (no area code required). The 24-hour helpline is staffed around the clock by trained child-protection social workers.
To view the Proclamation, visit http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/mental_health/pdf/sexual_abuse_prevention_week.pdf