Unit 4.6 Keeping children safe

Keeping Children Safe

Any person being aware of, or having knowledge of, or even suspecting a child of being in an unsafe or abusive situation has the legal duty to report the situation.

Call 310-1234 – no area code is required. This is a free 24 hour helpline.

What is Abuse?

As public awareness of the subject of child abuse has grown, so have the numbers of reported and confirmed cases. The following definitions are adapted from B.C.’s child protection legislation, the Child, Family and Community Service Act

  • Physical abuse is any physical force or action that results, or could result, in injury to a child. It’s stronger than what would be considered reasonable discipline.
  • Sexual abuse is the use of a child for sexual gratification. It includes sexual touching as well as non-touching abuse, such as making a child watch sexual acts.
  • Emotional abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviour or verbal attacks by an adult on a child. It can include rejecting, terrorizing, ignoring, isolating, exploiting or corrupting a child.
  • Neglect is failure to provide for a child’s basic needs: food, clothing, adequate shelter, supervision and medical care. Neglect is the form of abuse most frequently reported to the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

When a child comes to you

Sometimes, a child who is being abused will tell an adult. If this happens to you:

  • stay calm
  • listen to them
  • let them know you believe them
  • reassure them
  • tell them you’re sorry it happened and let them know it’s not their fault
  • don’t promise to keep it a secret
  • never give advice
  • don’t say everything will be fine now. It may take a lot of time before everything is fine again
  • document everything you have spoken about, you may have witnessed, or seen, in a journal
  • report to the Ministry

The best way to protect a child from abuse is to have a good, open relationship with them. That means spending time with them, letting them know you care and, above all, listening to what they have to say.

It’s important that they understand that they can talk to you about anything – no matter how disturbing or uncomfortable.

You can encourage children’s positive self-esteem and self-worth by:

  • Giving them positive feedback for their efforts
  • Providing age appropriate choices
  • Encouraging them to do things for themselves
  • Respecting their decisions
  • Allowing them to exercise control of their lives whenever possible
  • Encourage the children in your life to talk to you about their day, every day
  • Teach them to tell you if an older person ever asks them to keep a secret

Make sure they know the difference between good touching (like a pat on the back or a quick hug for something done well) and bad touching, which is any touching that makes a child uncomfortable.

Be sure they know it is okay to say “no” to an older person – even if that person is someone they know and trust. Because the tragic truth is, most children who are abused are victims of people they know.

Never shake a child – it’s one of the most dangerous things a parent or caregiver can do. Shaking a baby or young child can cause brain damage, blindness and even death.

Brainstorm activity ideas which teach children safety.