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Students break silence on Dress Purple Day

Event acknowledges a child’s right to safety

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Students across Durham Region are encouraged to dress in purple in support of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The Dress Purple campaign is an event that takes place every Oct. 24 and encourages students and faculty around Ontario to wear purple in support of a child’s right to safety.

The campaign will be partnering with Durham Children’s Aid Society (CAS) to celebrate a community that is safe for kids.

Across Ontario, school staff and students are being encouraged to share their stories and photographs via social media. Those who are sharing their stories will use the hashtag #IBREAKthesilence.

The schools and child care centres that participate in the campaign are reminding students that help is available to them and that they are not alone. Teachers and other education professionals have access to resources that can help to engage students in an age-appropriate conversation about child abuse and neglect.

Around Durham Region there are seven early learning and child care centres, as well as 52 EarlyON sites and 270 licensed child care centres.

“In Durham Region, we are fortunate to have a strong network of community agencies. Through these established partnerships, we support the physical health and well-being of children, youth and families in our communities,” says Lisa McIntosh, Director of Children’s Services for the Region.

The Dress Purple’s classroom resources centre around the idea that “it takes a community to care for kids.”

For high schools, some of these resources include a focus on self-esteem, healthy and unhealthy relationships, and reasons to ask for help. These resources are meant to coincide with the newly raised age of protection, which now includes 16 and 17-year-olds.

For elementary schools, junior Kindergarten to Grade 5, there are four major lesson plans that can be found on the CAS website: It takes a Community to Care for Kids, Safety in the Community, Well-being in the Community, and Ontario Dress Purple Day – #IBREAKthesilence.

The first lesson, it takes a Community to Care for Kids, teaches students that it is the responsibility of any adults in their community to ensure a child’s right to safety and well-being. This lesson has children identify adults that they can turn to for help in their community.

For lesson number two, Safety in the Community, children are taught how to recognize if they are being touched inappropriately. They will then learn methods that can be applied to situations involving being touched in such a manner.

Lesson number three is Well-being in the Community, where children learn that they have physical, emotional, social and cognitive needs. They will also learn methods in which they can identify adults who can fulfill these needs in their community.

The final lesson that can be found on the website, Ontario Dress Purple Day – #IBREAKthesilence, is when children across Ontario can join their communities in speaking up for their rights to safety and well-being, as well as how it takes a community to care for kids.

This final lesson engages children in activities that are meant to show that help is available. It will also review key themes from the previous lessons.

Dress Purple Day is today, Oct. 24, and for more information visit http://www.oacas.org/dresspurpleday/

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