New remote testimony space supports children and youth inside and out of the courtroom
CALGARY -- The Calgary and Area Child Advocacy Centre (CCAC) has developed a safe space for children and teens to give remote testimonies as an alternative to the often uncomfortable experience of physically entering a courtroom and possibly reliving past trauma.
The CCAC’s remote testimony room is specially designed with the intent of providing children and youth who have experienced abuse an opportunity to give remote testimonies to the court while being fully supported by the CCAC’s multi-disciplinary team of professionals.
Melanie Grylls says the option for children and youth to testify from the Remote Testimony Room eliminates one of the most critical threats for the victim, namely encountering the accused.
“We ensure that when the child enters the space, whether it’s for an interview or to provide testimony, that they have the support and wraparound services of the partners that are needed.”
Grylls said this is important because the quality of the young person’s testimony and their ability to answer questions is highly dependent on their level of comfort.
“For memory retrieval for that child, to be able to be in a space where they’re comfortable where they feel safe, provides the best opportunity to get testimony.” Grylls said.
Having now supported three successful child and youth testimonies for both the Queens Court of Alberta as well as provincial court, Grylls said they have recently opened a second Remote Testimony Room at the Centre. “What were really hoping is that it actually becomes the default and that every child has the opportunity to be able to testify out of here if that works for the case and for the child and their family.”
About the CCAC
The Calgary and Area Child Advocacy Centre (CCAC) is devoted to giving children and youth who have experienced abuse a safe space to share their story and receive the support and resources they need throughout the entire disclosure, investigation, and judicial process, and along their healing journey.
The CCAC is made up of a multidisciplinary team of partner organizations that collaborate to provide an integrated response and wrap-around services for children and youth who have experienced abuse: Alberta Health Services, Alberta Justice & Solicitor General, Calgary Police Service, Children’s Services, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
In addition, the CCAC provides integrated and continuing victim support and a variety of specialized programs and services in child abuse prevention and intervention. Children, youth, and families who have been affected by child abuse can access all of the necessary resources at a single location.
Information and Stats
• One-in-three Canadians report experiencing some form of child abuse
• Child abuse is a serious public health issue - children who have been abused are more likely to have adverse physical and mental health issues later in life, such as substance abuse, mental and physical health challenges, and chronic disease
• 1,942 children and youth were assessed by the CCAC last year, a 23 per cent increase over the previous year
• If you suspect a child is being abused, immediately call your local police detachment or the local children and family services office to flag your suspicions:
• Calgary Children’s Services– 403-297-2995
• Child Abuse Hotline – 1-800-387-5437 (KIDS)
• Calgary Police – 403-266-1234
• Your local RCMP detachment
• Online Exploitation: cybertip.ca