FOR RELEASE – August 3, 2021
Child and Youth Advocate to review safety at Hidden Valley Elementary School after former Educational Assistant convicted
On July 29, 2021, the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office (YCAO) launched a systemic review of school safety and supports at Hidden Valley Elementary School after the conviction and sentencing of an Educational Assistant formerly employed with the school. The Department of Education has yet to provide a formal response to the incident.
This review is in accordance with the YCAO’s mandate of advocacy on systemic issues that arise during the course of individual advocacy. The objective of the review is to provide advice to the Department of Education promoting safety in schools for all students, particularly students with special needs, to ensure appropriate processes are in place to prevent abuse and to respond appropriately when abuse occurs. The Advocate has broad powers to review Yukon government services and programs and to be advised of steps taken to address the issues.
“The impacts of child abuse are influenced by how the adults respond,” said Annette King, Child and Youth Advocate. “Parents need information and guidance on how to talk to their children. They need assurance that the school will address the issues and keep their children safe.”
YCAO urges immediate action from the Department to communicate with parents, families, and First Nations about the school’s response to reports of harm, while maintaining the privacy of those involved. The YCAO recommends the assignment of a full-time social worker and clinical counsellor to Hidden Valley Elementary, to support students and educators and to distribute resources to parents and educators that provide guidance on speaking to children in developmentally-appropriate ways about sexual health and sexualized assault.
The role of YCAO as an independent office of the Legislative Assembly is to promote the views, rights and interests of children and youth. The operations of the office are guided by the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Act. Children, youth or others concerned about a child or youth eligible to receive services within Yukon Government can contact the Child and Youth Advocate Office at (867) 456-5575.
Systemic Advocacy Analyst, Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office