13 CHILD ABUSE AWARENESS Congratulations once again to the PEI Police Association for continuing their good work in the community in producing their 31st Annual Crime Prevention Guide. The theme selected for this year’s guide is ‘ChildAbuse Awareness’which touches the hearts of many islanders. Just as a precursor, child abuse is the physical or emotional abuse of a child by a parent, guardian, or other person, although in saying this, studies have shown that the abuse usually occurs in a dwelling by a family member. Most people in their own community may not be aware, but any one of their peers, friends, or neighbors may be victims of child abuse. Every day, someone experiences physical, emotional, neglect, and/or sexual abuse. If this issue is not addressed at the forefront, abuse can lead to serious physical or emotional injury which may affect the child for the rest of his/her life. In order to prevent child abuse, society must: recognize the types of abuse, understand common causes of abuse, know the characteristics of abusers, and realize the effects abuse has, not just on the child, but on families and communities across the province and indeed across the nation, so the prevention must first begin with understanding the different types of abuse. Physical or sexual abuse speaks for itself and is a horrendous crime. Emotional abuse interferes with a child's ability to develop at the pace of their age level. Emotional abuse victims tend to receive a limited or lack of attention or affection from their parents or siblings. Constant criticizing, belittling, insulting, rejecting and withholding love, affection, support and/or guidance are some examples of emotional abuse. They are also compared to others in a negative way, constantly bombarded with insults which eventually creates a lack of self-esteem. Every child deserves the right to grow up in a safe and healthy environment. However, this is not the case for many children. Children die every day in North America due to abuse and neglect, and it occurs at every level and across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. It is very important for adults today to understand the role we play in a child’s life because of the positive impact we can have on them. It is important for adults to engage with children, listen to them, ask them questions, build rapport with them, etc. You never know, you may be the only person that child may trust. You may be the only person they feel comfortable sharing ‘secrets’ with. You may be the only person to notice red flags or abnormal behavior and you may just be the only person who gets them the help they need. In closing, the following are things we can do as a society to help diminish child abuse: Get involved with other parents in your community, discipline your children thoughtfully, examine your own behaviour, educate yourself and others, teach children their rights, support local prevention programs, know what child abuse is and what signs to look for, report the abuse if you witness any form of abuse and finally encourage leaders in the community to be supportive of children and families. We are all in this together, so please get behind this initiative to help stop the abuse. J. David Poirier Chief of Police Summerside Police Services MESSAGE FROM THE SUMMERSIDE CHIEF OF POLICE