Zebra Child Protection Centre: “Where Kids Can Tell”
It takes a community to protect an abused child.
- In Canada in 2008, there were 85,440 cases of child abuse that were substantiated and another 17,918 cases that were unsubstantiated but remained suspect. These figures account for only the cases that are reported and investigated through Canadian Child Welfare services.
- Statistics have shown that sustantiated maltreatment occurs in approximately 14 out of every 1000 children.
- Over half (59%) of all sexual assault cases reported to police were children and youth under the age of 18.
Statistic Sources: Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect – Major Findings, Public Health Agency of Canada, 2008.
Child and Youth Victims of Police Reported Violent Crime, 2008— Statistics Canada.
The statistics are alarming. The ravages of child abuse are staggering both in scope and complexity. Think of how many children suffer: our neighbours, relatives, friends… our children’s playmates and classmates. Just imagine how much courage it takes for a child to disclose the nature of this crime, oftentimes knowing that it will tear apart his or her world.
Edmonton’s Zebra Child Protection Centre, the first centre of its kind in Canada, enables our community to respond to child abuse with a professional, compassionate and highly integrated program of healing and justice. In both spirit and amenities, Zebra is a child-centred service, from its playroom, children’s art and homemade blankets through its timely support services and its effective and rigorous approach to investigations.
The Zebra Centre brings together a multi-disciplinary community of professionals—Edmonton Police Service, Alberta Children’s Services, Crown Prosecutors, Child at Risk Response Teams, medical and trauma screening professionals and volunteer Child and Family Advocates—to an environment that nurtures the hurt child and uses all the wisdom of its partnership to see that justice is done. Through alliances within the community, the centre also puts children as well as their non-offending parents and guardians in touch with essential social service organizations.
The integration of law enforcement and social service agencies serves the children in a vital way. The integration at the centre allows for more efficient gathering of information—which minimizes the number of interviews and repetition of questions faced by the child—this creates greater communication between agencies and collaborative fact-finding. This not only minimizes additional trauma for the children but also results in better information and greater potential for convicting suspects. The integrative arrangement at Zebra also serves as a support network for the development of professionals working in this demanding field.
The Zebra Centre gives all of us in our community an opportunity to play a part in safeguarding our abused children and playing a key role in their healing process. Whether the gifts you have to share are financial, professional, gifts in kind (such as toys, blankets, and clothing) or a commitment of your time as a volunteer, you can be assured that your contribution will play an important part in lending strength to abused children in our community.
The Zebra Child Protection Centre is modelled upon integrated child advocacy centres at work in The United States. We have the opportunity, in turn, to build our Centre as an exemplary prototype for other communities in Canada. The American governing body – National Children’s Alliance – has provided us ”Best Practice” principles in all areas of operation to guide our development. With your help, we can grow to achieve excellence in all of these standards. For more information on best practices see the NCA website.
The Zebra Child Protection Centre demonstrates excellent collaboration between community professionals and ministries, and the Ministry of Children’s Services is committed to working hard to support this collaboration between community partners.
Alberta Children’s Services