VICTORIA – The most conservative estimates indicate approximately 10 per cent of boys and 20 per cent of girls in B.C. have been the victim of sexual abuse.

April 15-21 is Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Week in BC to recognize the devastating impacts of child sexual abuse and the importance of working together to keep children safe.

Sexual abuse may be associated with a host of personal, social and health problems including the loss of self esteem, relationship problems, mental health problems, problematic substance use, economic hardship, homelessness and suicide.

The Province also operates Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN)units, which provide specialized medical assessment for children and youth who have been, or are suspected of being sexually and/or physically abused. The SCAN units are located in every region of the province, including the Vancouver Island SCAN unit, which is set to open in a new permanent, central location in Nanaimo on April 17. The program was relocated from Victoria to Nanaimo to improve access to services for children and youth who live north of the Malahat, and lessen the need for them to travel off Vancouver Island for services.

There’s also a toll-free 24 hour helpline for children – tel:310-1234 – which can be accessed from anywhere in B.C. No area code is required. Anyone can call – children or youth who need help, parents in crisis who are afraid they might hurt their children or anyone who knows or suspects a child is being abused or neglected.