We must focus on rights of the child, Education professor writes in Free Press
Stories of many children in care do not make headlines, but all children deserve to be protected under UN convention, says Melanie Janzen
From the Winnipeg Free Press
There has been a lot of media attention recently on violent attacks on youth in care, emergency hotel placements for children and the systemic failures of our child and family welfare system.
These are tragic, traumatic and important events the public needs to know about. However — sadly and almost inconceivably — these tragedies represent only the tip of the much greater iceberg; that is, the media reports we hear represent only a tiny fraction of the number of children in care, and are emblematic of a much greater systemic problem. In other words, there are 10,673 children whose stories have not made the headlines, yet, these children — their numbers roughly representative of the population of Winkler — remain a faceless and nameless group of human beings whose circumstances are largely ignored.
As the Free Press reported (A vow to end hotel placements, April 2), the number of children in care has increased by 400 since last year. These faceless figures represent real children; human beings who are experiencing unimaginable trauma, fear, grief and loss.
Having worked in the public school system as both a teacher and a learning support teacher, I have worked with many children in care, some who stayed with us for just days, others who were “lucky” enough to be in longer-term foster placements stayed with us for years. It is these everyday stories of trauma that do not get reported.
Melanie Janzen is an assistant professor in the education faculty at the University of Manitoba and a former learning support teacher in Seven Oaks School Division.