I want to commend the three women for writing about the recent unsolved crime against a child, the incident of the four-year-old girl who was seriously abused, and the lack of public discourse on such issues.
The Aug. 18 letter to the editor, “Safety of Children Must Be a Priority,” was submitted by Verna Ryan, Michelle Morrison and Tina Pranger.
As the newly appointed Chairperson of the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women, I want to take this opportunity to also express a few thoughts about violence and how community and government can respond. As members of our Island community, council and staff are also outraged at the ongoing incidents of various forms of childhood abuse that continue to be experienced by so many of our children, our most vulnerable citizens.
It is difficult at times for individuals to know what they can do to make a difference, especially when we hear about incidents similar to what happened to the child of the court case. But as difficult as it is to do we still need to report abuse, not evidence per se, but concerns of abusive behavior that we notice within our families, among friends, and in our schools and neighborhoods.
We can also write letters to the editor to bring critical attention to an issue. With a provincial election in October, we can let our voices be heard by speaking with the candidates running for office, calling on them to ensure adequate funding for resources to combat issues of violence against women and children and other forms of violence in our community .
“Child and Youth Advocate” offices exist in every other jurisdiction in Canada and is long overdue on P.E.I. A child and youth advocate position would be able to give a voice to all of the children and youth who may not have anyone to advocate on their behalf. Perhaps 2011 is the year to focus on pursuing a “Child and Youth Advocate” for the children and youth of Prince Edward Island.
In closing, the Advisory Council on the Status of Women is committed to keeping the issues of violence a priority in our work.We will continue to work with other interested individuals and groups and hopefully we can collectively do our part to help to protect the rights and safety of our children.
Diane Kays is chairperson of the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women.