Most often when I write about the street, the article is almost like a downer. Partly it has to do with wanting to understand the reasoning that lands folks there, and in so doing, I uncover a lot of grief and misery which in itself can read like a put down on our society.
So it was with great interest that on Nov. 18, I read the front page article on Saturday’s Advocate entitled, ‘A voice for children’. The picture showed a painter putting finishing touches on a facility dedicated to helping children that have been abused or are currently being abused.
I usually identify a problem and try as I might, cannot always come up with the complete answer as to dealing with particular issues, so I was quite pleased with the effort being put out by the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Coalition. It is my prayer and desire to see an effort like this succeed. If in any way we can help a child before they form their life patterns as a result of abuse, then we have won a partial victory.
The way I read the article, it is an extreme effort to utilize all of the agencies necessary to intervene and prevent any further damage to a child who has been wronged through abuse. These agencies include the R.C.M.P., family services, mental health, addiction programs, etc., all in one place. Kudos to the people who will be manning this effort, and pray hard that bureaucracy does not impede any potential good that could come out of an effort like this.
One of the most disturbing sights that we often see at the kitchen is young kids no more than thirteen years old grouping with adult addicts on the street. At that age they are more than vulnerable to the wiles of the more experienced dealers. There have been younger kids than that, but we will talk them out of staying or even hanging out with the older ones.
Whatever it is that brought them here is also one of the issues that has to be dealt with. We know from watching news reports that the abuse of children is rampant in this country and one of the most difficult to catch or deal with. Even the kids themselves when questioned will often deny the abuse, simply because they do not want to lose what little they do have. They are scared that they would be taken from their homes and sent to foster homes, etc.
It seems as if every new generation has more problems than the previous one, but then it’s understandable; no parent can teach what they have not learned. In fact they will teach or do what they have learned, whether it is good or not. Often issues like alcoholism or even drug addictions are taught because that is what the parent learned.
We can see that played out in society as a whole in that values that were held dear twenty or forty years ago are now often treated with contempt, all in an effort to indulge in practices that once were taboo. Now it is to the point that what children are being taught is so confusing that it’s no wonder they end up on the street; confusion reigns there.
So, you see, that article tends to give me some hope that at least society is realizing that there is a terrific need for help for our younger population. Cookie cutter solutions just do not work, so I really hope that the help offered is customised to each specific child.
Whatever help they get, it is still help, and it is ‘a step in the right direction’.
Chris Salomons is the kitchen co-ordinator of Potter’s Hands in Red Deer.