15 message from summerside’s chief of police 20th annual crime prevention guide Congratulations again to the PEI Police Association for continuing their good work in producing their 20th Annual Guide. This year, the Association has focused on ‘Child Abuse Awareness’ as their topic for the Guide. This is an area that touches so many Canadian families and it is very important that these types of messages go out to the public as an education piece. The term ‘child abuse’ refers to the violence, mistreatment or neglect that a child may experience while in the care of someone they either trust or depend on, such as a parent, sibling, other relative, care giver or guardian. Abuse may take place anywhere and may occur, for example, within the child's home or that of someone known to the child, and may take several forms such as: physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and emotional abuse. The Canadian Red Cross reports that in the past thirty years, hundreds of children under the age of 18 were killed by family members, and that neglect is the most common form of reported child abuse cases, making up more than 40% of all reported cases. Children and youth under the age of 18 represent only one-fifth of the population, but are victims in more than 60% of reported sexual abuse offenses. A child who is being abused may endure the abuse for a long period of time before telling anyone what is happening and some victims never tell anyone about what they have experienced. Depending on their age and stage of development, a child may not be able to communicate what has happened to them, or they may fear they will not be believed. They may be convinced that the abuse is their own fault and, if they tell anyone about it, they will be punished. They may fear that they or the abuser will be removed from the home, or suffer other consequences. They may feel ashamed and want to keep the abuse a secret to avoid being stigmatized or labeled. It has been difficult to obtain a true and complete picture of child abuse in Canada because it often remains hidden. Most provinces now have mandatory reporting laws that require those (including professionals and members of the public) who suspect that a child is being abused to make a report to the appropriate child and family services agency. We must continue to battle for the rights of our precious children, and if need be, be their voice to report when a suspected abuse is taking place. This form of abuse must end. J. David Poirier Chief of Police Summerside Police Services