What is it?

Neglect/ physical, mental or sexual abuse/ traumatic experiences



1 in 3 street youth in B.C. have been sexually exploited. 60% are aboriginal.

85% know their abuser.

It is never the child’s fault.


How do children show it?

Changes in behaviour, emotions, social and academic ways.

They might start using drugs or alcohol or run away.

They might attempt or commit suicide.

They blame themselves, keep it secret, and might think it is ok.


Parent Issues: 

Poor education/ poor decisions/ drug or alcohol abuse/ anger issues/ no support


(The following true victim accounts may have been abbreviated for presentation.)


My Name Is “Pete”

My Mom has been angry as long as I can remember. My Dad left when I was five. That was when she started beating me. You never know what would set her off. I tried to avoid her when ever I could. Once I turned twelve, I realized that other people’s parents didn’t hit them. I guess the neighbors didn’t care either. Once I got bigger, I was able to fight her back. My Dad tried to get custody of me, but nothing ever changed. At eighteen, I finally moved in with my Dad. Things are better now. I wish I had heard of “Childlin” years ago. No one should ever have to live in fear in their own home.


“Sophie’s Story”

My childhood was hell. Most days Mom and Dad were drugged out of it and they didn’t even care if I was there. They didn’t even notice that I wasn’t in school or that I didn’t have anything to eat. I was the one to answer the door to strangers. It was scary and lonely. One day when I was at school, I came home to find Mom gone and the house boarded up. No one even told me what had happened. I just sat down and cried. I tried to talk to my drunk Dad and he didn’t care. I left and tried to O.D. as I felt there was no way out of this mess. Women’s Aid finally tried to help me. They let me talk about it and they said it wasn’t my fault. Thank goodness for helping organizations to get your life back on track.


I am a junior hockey player. I love hockey! My coach is so great! He was named the International hockey Man Of The Year. He has helped me a lot. Lately though, he is making me do some things I don’t want to do. I know it is wrong and it hurts. I thought of telling someone, but who would believe me? So I stayed silent so I could stay on the team. It was a nightmare! This went on for 10 years! I know some people were suspicious of what was going on, but they never helped me. I had to tell seven people before anyone started to believe what I was saying. Oh, they were angry at me. Who was I to accuse my coach of such bad behaviour. I am happy to say Hockey Canada did finally believe what this man did to me. I have now co-founded Respect Group Inc. with the Canadian Red Cross. It has a “Respect In Sport” online training for all adult youth leaders on abuse, bullying and harassment prevention. This will aim to reduce child abuse through ongoing educational training. Let’s empower the bystanders to break the silence on child abuse.  My name is Sheldon Kennedy.


My name is Gilbert Gustafson- this is my story.

I was brought up in a loving catholic family. I always wanted to become a priest, so I began in high school seminary. I was encouraged to date into college. Once we entered into major seminary, there was no more dating. When I was six years old, I was sexually abused by a nine year old neighborhood boy. At that time I did not understand it as sexual abuse. I believe that is where my sexual attraction to boys began. Even as I got older, I was still attracted to younger boys in my fantasies. I was ashamed of these feelings. In 1977 I began my first parish, and worked very hard, and became exhausted. For some reward, I began to act out the real life fantasies of sexual touching of young boys. This progressed to other things. I knew it wasn’t right and I felt enormous shame. I didn’t realize the damage I was causing the boys. It became an obsessive compulsive disorder. Five years later, I was accused of sexual abusive behaviour. I admitted it was true. Even though I had shared the abuse in confession, the confessor was bound by confidentiality. The church provided a therapist and other resources. The next year I was convicted and spent four and a half months in jail, plus ten years of supervised probation. I was removed from active ministry.

My four components to recovery were:  1) External Accountability with consequences  2) Internal Responsibility  3) Therapy  4) Managed Recovery to a Transformed Life

I have authentic sorrow for the harm I have caused my victims, and pray and hope for future healing of all. Since 2012, I have worked with others on projects to seek keeling and reconciliation among survivors, perpetrators and others involved in child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. I believe the church needs to be a model in dealing with sexual abuse.

References: Canadian Red Cross,, Child Welfare Info Gateway



1) Help support the family units with positive parenting courses to give them the skills and resources to learn. We must provide abuse and treatment centers, food, clothing, housing, medical and safety.

2) Provide ongoing resources for public awareness for the prevention of abuse. $$

3) Protect our children from abuse-we must continue to create safe spaces. Continue school programs such as “Be Safe” (for 5-9 yrs) “No – Go – Tell”

4) Forms and contacts to report abuse are available.

5) Collaborate with community partners. (Police, Family and Early Childhood Anglophone East, Famille et Petite Enfant Francophone Sud, Children’s Aid N.B., Drop In, Red Cross, Habitat For Humanity, Support to Single Parents, Social Development N.B., Reconnect, Mental Health, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, MAGMA, Salvus Clinic, United Way, Youth Quest, Headstart, Karing Kitchen and many more organizations)