UNICEF responds to recommendations of Katelynn Sampson inquest, outlining critical next steps to protect Canada’s children
TORONTO, April 29, 2016 – UNICEF Canada has responded to today’s recommendations made by the jury in the Katelynn Sampson inquest, which involved the case of a seven-year-old girl whose abuse and ultimate death on April 3, 2008, at the hand of her caretakers represented a failure by various child-serving sectors that should have protected her. UNICEF Canada’s Chief Policy Advisor, Marv Bernstein, provided the following response:
“We welcome today’s recommendations as a critical opportunity to protecting Canada’s children. Paramount to any civilized society is an interconnected network of child-serving sectors – such as child welfare, education, justice and health – that does not operate in silos and promotes human dignity and physical and psychological integrity, and respects children as rights-bearing individuals. Children have a voice and have the right to express that voice, and as a society, we must listen. We must put children’s needs and interests first if we want to build a society of confident and responsible citizens.
The story of Katelynn Sampson is a tragic one. As a society, we failed young Katelynn. But while we cannot undo what tragedy was done, we can ensure it does not happen again. We can ensure no child is ever again hidden in plain sight and falls through the cracks. We can ensure that anyone working with children listens to what they have to say, takes their views seriously, and is vigilant in supporting their needs, including taking the time to identify their right to be safe and protected from abuse and neglect and their right to speak up and be heard where they feel at risk of harm.
At UNICEF, we work with all levels of government in Canada to provide child rights education, to incorporate international child rights conventions into legislation, policy, programming and practice, and to use Child Rights Impact Assessments as a tool in making decisions that are in children’s best interests. Public policy is stronger when children’s best interests are a priority and when their rights, as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, are considered as a filter for all decisions, policy and programs. Implementing the use of Child Rights Impact Assessments at all levels of government is a critical step in protecting children.
We encourage the government to act quickly to implement the jury’s recommendations, before another Katelynn is allowed to slip through the cracks.”
UNICEF Canada outlines the next steps to ensuring the welfare and protection of all Canadian children:
- Take steps to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into various provincial statutes, including the Child and Family Services Act, the Education Act and the Children’s Law Reform Act.
- Apply Katelynn’s Principle broadly, which should place the child at the centre of all child-serving sectors in relation to all services, policies, and legislative decisions that affect children and youth.
- Provide child rights training and education across various Ontario government ministries, accompanied by youth friendly resources.
- Establish a best practice of using Child Rights Impact Assessments within all governments, in order to assess any proposed policy, law or decision for its impact on children and their rights. In doing so, we are able to maximize positive impacts and avoid or mitigate negative impacts on our most vulnerable.
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UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.
UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.