Zebra Centre – Lending Strength
Before the Zebra Child Protection Centre opened in 2002, children in our community who reported abuse were thrust into an adult institutional world of police and other investigative agencies. It is not difficult to imagine how being brought to the police station, typically the first stop in the investigation process, would strike alarm in a child. Children who had summoned the courage to tell their horrific stories were often called upon to repeat them several times to different officials at different locations. Not only did this add to the terrible stress on the child, it also made for disjointed information gathering and difficulty in building the case for justice.
Edmonton Police Service, who understand how difficult it is even for adults to face the horrors of child abuse, knew there had to be a better way: A way to safeguard our communities’ children, address their needs and nurture their healing, while rigorously bringing the criminals who commit these crimes to justice. Together with other agencies, concerned citizens and professionals, they sought out models in North America for a child-centred, child-focused centre that integrated investigative and protective services in one safe and nurturing environment.
The consultations and research led to the development of the multi-disciplinary Zebra Child Protection Centre, which officially opened in Edmonton in April of 2002. The first of its kind in Canada, the Centre brings together a multi-disciplinary team – Edmonton Police Services Child Protection Unit and the Child at Risk Response Teams, Alberta Children’s Services, Alberta Crown Prosecutors and community volunteers—in a child-focused, safe environment. The Zebra team works together to mitigate the trauma suffered by the child, nurture healing and pursue justice. It is modelled after integrated child protection and advocacy organizations in The United States, which are governed by the National Children’s Alliance. The Zebra Centre is striving to attain “best practice” standards set by the National Children’s Alliance in all areas of its operation. As awareness and support of the Zebra Centre grows in our community, Edmonton is increasingly able to protect and support our children and deliver justice to those who abuse them.
The Zebra Centre has confirmed the strength of partnerships for building stronger, healthier communities.
Edmonton Police Foundation