The first Child Sexual Abuse Forum is underway in Calgary and experts have gathered to share information that will be used to determine the priorities for the province’s action plan for sexual violence prevention.

The focus of discussions will be on issues related to the rural response, the justice system response and child sexual abuse in ethno-cultural communities.

The conference will also hear from Alberta’s child advocacy centres about getting victims the services they need.

“Child sexual abuse continues to be a difficult topic to talk about and often goes underreported. It’s imperative we start creating a dialogue and change the culture of fear and shame that can prevent victims from seeking help. As a society, we must all work together and strive to end the exploitation of vulnerable children,” said Manmeet S. Bhullar, Minister of Human Services.

Danielle Aubry, the Executive Director of Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, and Sheldon Kennedy, of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, are co-chairing the event.

“Child victims need the best care that we as a society can give them and all sectors, from child and family services, to justice and health care, all need to be involved and coordinated. This forum is the next important step in improving our multidisciplinary response to child sexual abuse,” said Sheldon Kennedy, Child Advocate.

A number of others are participating in the conference online.

  • Click HERE to see the webcast.

The province announced a grant to help child advocacy centres on Thursday morning that aims to improve access to counselling for children who are victims of sexual exploitation and other offences.

“Although no child should be a victim of crime, the reality is they are and we need to be ready to support them first. The Counselling for Children grant will help give a voice to children who need it the most,” said Jonathan Denis, Minister of Alberta Justice and Solicitor General.

Eligible child advocacy centres could receive up to $150,000 per year from the Counselling for Children grant.

Those child advocacy centres that are interested in more information can contact Victims Programs at 780-427-3460.