Vigilance for youth at risk

Vigilance in protecting children is everybody's business

Quebec health authorities are urging Quebecers to act to protect youth now.

Unprecedented preventive measures during the coronavirus pandemic have direct and profound impact on families, and “can considerably weaken the safety net that protects the most vulnerable of our children,” reads a statement. “Home confinement can increase the danger of child abuse and neglect. While parents have primary responsibility for the protection of their children, abuse is a matter of concern for the entire family circle, and all members of the community.”

While all professionals working with children – educators, police or health professionals – are obliged to report if the security or development of a child or adolescent is or may be in danger, youth protection authorities say everyone must act.

Chelsea is in her mid-50s and still remembers with crystalline clarity the abuse she endured as a child.

Like many kids in her community, the Laval resident was on the receiving end of daily violence at the hands of a parent and other family members; violence, neglect and sexual abuse beginning as early as 5 years old, continuing unabated until her escape in her mid-teens.

She says what also marked her was the complicity of those who remained silent. “I remember lying on the floor and looking at other adults, and no one did anything. It was obvious what was going on. How could they not? All the signs were there.”

When should you report? “Now!”

You don’t need to be absolutely convinced that a child is being abused or neglected to report to Youth Protection (DYP), you just need ‘reasonable suspicions’ based on your observations or something shared with you in confidence. Quebec’s Youth Protection Act protects the identity of the person reporting.

Chelsea says children “can’t protect themselves from abusers. We weren’t waiting for someone to come save us, because our abusers were supposed to be our protectors. As a child we still turned to them for security, and they used that against us and destroyed us for it.”

She says today the tools are there for people to step in and report it without fear. “There are no more excuses. Call, email, for God’s sake do something.”

Call the DYP 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In Montreal call 514-935-6196 (English-Batshaw) 514-896-3100 (French); in Laval, call 450-975-4150 or 888-975-4884

Other resources are also available: Info-Social 811 (option 2); Tel-Jeunes (1 800 263-2266); LigneParents (1 800 361-5085) and more at Qué

For any emergency call 911.

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