I want to congratulate the Winnipeg Free Press for taking a stand that when we speak of “Free Speech’ that doesn’t mean we can say whatever we want. Use of Social Media and the Internet should also be held to the standards of human decency. Please read the article found here: Winnipeg Free Press
I was out on a neighbourhood clean-up with Residents of the Exchange District and in our clean-up I came across a discarded pamphlet for Women in Sexually Abusive Relationships, an empty 2 litre bottle of beer and a Red Danger Sign all on the ground beside each other. The first thought that popped into my head was how ironic and how fitting that those objects lay next to each other. The next thought was to the art of Almeida Garcez and how I wished I could make the political and thought-provoking commentary on the human state he portrays through his art. It got my mind racing to the Victor Walk that former hockey star Theoren Fleury completed just a few short days ago to bring awareness of the epidemic of sexual abuse of children and society’s poor response to punishment of the abusers and support of the healing of the victim.
Fleury went through years of torment and pain trying to recover from the abuse he suffered. The damage long-term on victims of abuse is incalculable. Fleury is attempting to bring awareness to a public that for whatever reason has not fully understood the severity and cost of not coming up with long and short-term solutions to the sexual abuse of children. In my career working with at-risk children and youth who more times often than not have been victims of abuse pay the heavier price through a life time of pain, addictions and inability to develop trusting relationships.
The growth of Social Media has in fact made it easier for those who are wanting to victimize children and made it much more difficult for those of us trying to protect and develop strong and resilient youth. We have so many regulations on our society to protect us but there seems to be little we can do to prevent illegitimate websites and pedifiles from using the Internet to victimize youth. Parents do need to be vigilant in monitoring their child’s computer use but as a society we need to ensure applications like Snap Chat and sites like ASK.FM that create risk to our youth don’t find their way into our children’s hands.
We can’t afford to wait any longer in taking action to look at the complicated issues that are putting our children at-risk. Theoren Fleury indicates that 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be victims of sexual abuse. The cost to our society is enormous. Greater though is the cost to each of those individuals if they don’t find the strength and support needed to become Victors like Theoren Fleury to finally overcome the loss of his childhood innocence.