Today is World Children’s Day, a day dedicated to children’s rights. As Chair of the Marie-Vincent Foundation Board of Directors, I believe we need to remember that we must all do our part where our children are concerned.
In Québec, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys report having been sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
The number of reports to the Director of Youth Protection continues to increase despite our outrage and collective realization in recent years of the violence children are subjected to. In 2019-2020, close to 120,000 reports were processed—a 12% increase from the previous year. That translates to 324 cases involving children reported each day in Québec. That is far too many.
2020 has not been easy for our kids. In the coming months, we will be able to see to what extent the pandemic, isolation and stay-at-home order have impacted both children and teenagers. One thing is certain: they will need—more than ever—a protective community, mobilized to support them and to help them grow and develop to their best potential.
What can we do collectively to turn this around? How can we better protect and support our children?
The creation of the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection as well as the Select Committee on the Sexual Exploitation of Minors shows a willingness to act, to prevent violence against children and to better help young victims. Regardless of the solutions which will be put forward, the Marie-Vincent Foundation believes that children must be our primary concern.
And that is what we, at Marie-Vincent, have been doing since 2005. We provide young victims of sexual violence as well as their families with everything they need under one roof: interview for the police investigation, medical examination as well as psychosocial and therapeutic services. Partners concerned in sexual violence cases are brought together in a homelike, soothing environment tailored to the needs of children and teenagers, making vital services and support available without going from one place to the next. This model also fosters better coordination of interventions, keeping the children’s best interests at heart.
Beyond helping victims, we need to act before violence even occurs. It is for this very reason that the Foundation’s other main focus is education and raising awareness so as to build a world free of sexual violence against children. Books, videos and other prevention tools for teenagers, parents, educators and teachers are available free of charge at marie-vincent.org. Go have a look to discover simple tips and help prevent sexual violence. We can all do our part to protect our children.
Support the Marie-Vincent Foundation. No child should be subjected to sexual violence.
Jessica N. Pathy, Chair of the Marie-Vincent Foundation’s Board of Directors