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National Child Day: OISE experts call attention to key concerns

November 17, 2016

OISE experts call attention to key concerns on National Child Day

Photo courtesy of OISE's Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study


November 20th is National Child Day, which recognizes the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It is the perfect time for young Canadians to express themselves and shape their own future. It’s also a good time for our education experts, particularly those working in early child development, to pause and connect their work to children’s rights in Canada.

We’ve asked five OISE professors: Based on your own work, what is the most important issue that requires serious public and/or government understanding and action?


Professor Michele Peterson-Badali

Professor Michele Peterson-Badali

That’s an easy one and a painful one for me. In Canada, as we celebrate the UN Convention, our Criminal Code still permits assaults against children. Section 43 the Code provides a defense for parents, teachers, babysitters and others standing in place of parents to use force to "correct" children as long as the force does not exceed what is "reasonable" under the circumstances. This law continues to act as an excuse to dismiss too many serious cases of abuse and it needs to be repealed.

Professor Jean-Paul Restoule: Indigenous children

Professor Jean-Paul Restoule In Canada, there are more Indigenous children in state “care” today than at the height of the residential school era. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in January that the federal government continues to racially discriminate against First Nations children and their families by failing to provide equitable and culturally based child welfare services.

On this National Child Day I hope the government will make good on its promise to “fully implement” the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission including reforming child welfare and eliminating the discrepancy in education funding for First Nations children. Twenty years ago tomorrow, the final report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was released. Many of its recommendations were ignored or unfulfilled. Let’s not make this mistake again.

Professor Lana Stermac: Sexual victimization

Professor Lana Stermac

Many children in Canada and around the world are exposed to sexual victimization in various forms as both witnesses and victims. While we do not associate sexual assault, slavery and exploitation as endemic to Canada, rates of these behaviours remain shockingly high and need our attention. It is well known that exposure to childhood sexual abuse is a primary risk factor for sexual abuse in adolescence and adulthood. Continuing and even greater understanding and action is needed to address this issue. 

Professor J. Roy Gillis: Violence and bullying

Professor J. Roy Gillis

Consistent with Article 19 – protection from all forms of violence – identity-based bullying regarding gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion and other forms of identity in our schools, is one of the most serious problems facing society.

This type of bullying involves physical and emotional abuse, often resulting in long term psychological and social impacts. These consequences, along with academic ones that have deleterious effects on educational progress, further compounds one’s access to a healthy, happy and prosperous future. It is the responsibility of the whole community, in addition to our schools, to devote the necessary resources and training to reduce this type of violence against children.

Professor Janette Pelletier: Right to play

Professor Janette Pelletier

Serious attention needs to be given to children's right to play, as noted in Article 31 of the Convention. While Ontario's new full-day kindergarten is an encouraging public policy initiative promoting play-based early learning, are all governments doing enough to ensure that children of all ages have safe and stimulating places to play? Does the general public understand that child-driven play is vital to healthy development and not simply frivolous energy-burning? Are children's voices about play heard at international, national and local policy tables? 


About National Child Day 
Mental Health Week: How OISE profs “Get Loud” for mental health

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