TRACADIE BEACH (GNB) – The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate and the New Brunswick Health Council today released the sixth annual State of the Child report in Tracadie-Beach.
Part I of the report, Children in Caring Communities: From knowledge to responsibility, focuses on Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the right to protection from all forms of physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.
It is also the beginning of a larger conversation on how to prevent harm to children and youth in New Brunswick.
“Our office will engage with government, business, community, and children and families to develop a provincial harm prevention strategy for children,” said child and youth advocate Norm Bossé. “The goal is to develop the strategy over the next 12 months, based on consultations launched with the release of this report.”

The strategy will address all issues of harm to children, and develop a holistic rights-respecting plan for New Brunswick, starting with urgent cases of abuse, neglect and maltreatment, including:

●    ensuring that children placed within the child protection system are safe and secure;
●    improving child and adolescent mental health;
●    lifting more children out of conditions of poverty;
●    reducing institutional harm within the youth criminal justice system; and
●    keeping children safe in community programs (artistic, cultural, sport, recreational, religious or other).

Part II highlights areas of concern and factors of harm for New Brunswick children and youth, presented in the third annual edition of the Child Rights and Well-being Framework that accompanies the report. Concerns include:

●    58 per cent of New Brunswick youths in Grades 6 to 12 reported having been bullied;
●    the significant jump in the teenage obesity rate from 23 per cent to 28 per cent;
●    child and youth hospital admission rates related to behavioural and learning disorders being more than three times the national rate; and
●    New Brunswick having the fourth-highest rate out of the 10 provinces for child and youth victims of family violence

“Our Child and Youth Well-being Framework, and this annual snapshot, represent an important tool for yearly provincial monitoring,” said Stéphane Robichaud, chief executive officer of the New Brunswick Health Council. “This tool is helping to develop a culture that will improve the well-being of all children and youth in New Brunswick.”

The report also includes a consultation document to engage all New Brunswickers in an exercise of reflection, to inform and direct the proposed provincial harm prevention strategy for children.
“By engaging the public in a conversation about preventing harm, we are attempting to ensure that our children can grow up resilient, respectful, happy and healthy,” said Bossé. “When our collective responsibility is met with understanding, action and resolve, children's lives improve. Keeping children safe from harm is the right place to start in this social transformation.”
As the strategy is developed, the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate will emphasize the need to consult New Brunswick children and youth with respect to their experiences of abuse, neglect or maltreatment. All persons interested in coming forward to share their advice or experiences are encouraged to contact the advocate's office.

“We believe that New Brunswick can and should be a world leader in respecting children's rights, empowering their voice, providing all children with equal opportunities, and protecting them from harm,” said Bossé.