Every year, hundreds of children and youth in the Edmonton area disclose abuse that they have experienced or witnessed. Every year, amazing teams of professionals, communities, and families do their best to support these children. Still, as reporting rates increase and as our understanding of the impacts of trauma continue to be refined, we are left with gaps in services that can inhibit the child from reaching their full potential.
Child abuse is not a crime that discriminates, it affects those of all genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic status. However, it is not uncommon to see financial concerns emerge for families after a disclosure of abuse. Perhaps the family has to pay legal fees, perhaps they require specialized therapy services, or perhaps caregivers have had to take time off work. Any of this could hinder a youth's ability to pursue post-secondary education.
While the responsibility for preventing a crime always lies with the perpetrator, research is showing that higher education and employment rates can play a preventative role within a community. In addition, we are also learning that higher levels of education within a community can act as a resiliency factor for developing children and youth. Pursuing post-secondary education may in fact contribute to one's journey towards healing.
For these reasons, the Empowerment through Education fund was developed. This fund will be used to support a scholarship for children and youth, with a history of reported child abuse, who have applied to post secondary institutions in attempts to further their education.
Child abuse should never define anyone. The Empowerment through Education fund is an attempt to return power and control to survivors, to allow them to author their own story and come up with their own endings. With continued help and support from the community, there is no telling what these children and youth can, and will, achieve.