Raising Awareness of Abuse

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 10:17 a.m. October 25, 2017

If you are threatened with abuse or you are abused, report it to an adult. If that adult doesn’t listen, tell someone else.

A group of people on a soccer field
Service members and students form a purple ribbon outside the school to promote reporting child abuse

That was the message Detective Ann-Marie Tupling left with Sts. Cosmas & Damian Catholic School students on October 24 at a Dress Purple Day event held during Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“Your voice must be heard,” said Tupling, the Toronto Police Service’s Domestic Violence/Child Abuse Coordinator, told the students. “Never give up and always remember: you are not alone.”

Several members of the Divisional Policing Support Unit, including Inspector Dave Rydzik, attended the event to raise awareness among students about the signs of abuse and neglect, and what to do if they or someone they know is being/or suspected of being abused or neglected. 

It’s estimated that one-third of Canadians have suffered some form of child abuse in their lives. The 2014 study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that 32% of Canadians had experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, exposure to intimate partner violence or a combination of these while they were young — a number that includes behaviour once deemed socially appropriate forms of discipline, such as spanking with an object and slapping.

A woman at a microphone in a gym
Detective Ann-Marie Tupling asks students to speak up about physical and emotional abuse

“Growing up in Toronto, I was very fortunate to enjoy many carefree days in parks, playgrounds, neighbourhoods, youth centres and clubs and in the homes of family members and friends,” said Nunzio Del Giudice, the school’s principal. “I cherish the beautiful memories of my childhood so much so that I often find myself trying to reconnect with those very same neighbourhoods and the very same acquaintances from my past. I was truly blessed as a child to have experienced a very happy childhood in a big city like Toronto. Unfortunately, not all children are as fortunate as I. The world can be a frightening place for a child who is a victim of abuse and neglect.”

Del Giudice said every child has a right to a safe childhood free of violence.

“It is engaging in events like Dress Purple Day that we promote safety and awareness and hopefully prevent abuse from happening in the first place so we can truly help our children be safe,” he said. “It is our way of demonstrating our commitment to every child that they have a right to safety. It is our way of showing the importance of speaking up if someone you know needs help.”

St. Patrick Catholic Secondary School students created a video, Break the Silence, that was shown at the event.

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