© Labradorian file photo
The month of February 2014 is here and gone. But I wonder how many people, including myself, realized that it was "Violence Prevention Month."
Co-ordinating committees throughout the province, including here in Labrador, were busy planning and organizing a number of events to help educate us (the general public) and raise the awareness about the different forms of violence, including physical, mental, sexual, financial, verbal, emotional, cultural and spiritual.
Unfortunately, violence - in any form - still affects many peoples' overall health and well-being, including many you may know personally.
Canadian Statistics show that the most vulnerable in our society continue to be women, children, persons with disabilities and, yes, our older citizens.
A group that I have a deep admiration for and is doing some excellent work to combat this is Violence Prevention Labrador.
This group is funded by the provincial government through its Violence Prevention Initiative and, in my view, the government should make every effort to make this a permanent program so the group can focus on the work at hand rather than worry about funding.
Violence Prevention Labrador (VPL) is a pan-Labrador organization whose volunteer board includes like-minded organizations and community partners from all over Labrador.
I would encourage people to visit their website (http://www.vplabrador.ca/home/) to learn more about this wonderful group.
Their mission and mandate clearly articulates that their path focuses on an integrated approach to violence prevention which leads to early identification of needs, improved communication between service providers and recipients, greater public awareness and accountability, opportunities for information dissemination on best practices and overall improved service delivery.
Violence Prevention Labrador continues to lead by example and provide support to many Labrador communities through the delivery of programs and resources.
Often I think about two things that we hold dearest to our hearts and how they are treated, that being our children and our seniors/elders.
Abuse in any form of those most vulnerable in our society is not acceptable and should not be tolerated. I would just, for a moment, like to talk about seniors.
I am sad to say that abuse of seniors is more common than most people would like and would admit is happening in our communities. It is a very complex issue because those involved are usually members of their own family.
So the question by many is: why don't people report the abuse? One of the reasons why seniors may not (I am pretty sure there are more) is that they are fearful and concerned on what will happen to the abuser.
Where will they end up if the act is reported? What will the community think? Therefore, the abuse sometimes will go on for an extended period of time, to the detriment of the seniors.
Statistics quote that approximately 80 per cent of elder abuse or neglect is considered to be hidden and goes undetected. Only one out of every five cases will be reported to the authorities.
It's very important that we pay attention and recognize signs of abuse and help protect them when we see it happening.
Here are just a few tips to help us all to protect our seniors (our most precious resource):
1. maintain regular contact with your senior relatives (visit them as often as you are able);
2. seniors need to keep their mail personal as long as they can;
3. look for signs of anything out of the ordinary and suspicious;
4. and for me the most important: tell someone if you feel uncomfortable in the way you are being treated.
Call the Seniors Resource Centre free toll line at 1-888-454-0372 if you or a family member suspect someone being abused; they have trained staff who can help.
Lets all do what we can to look after our most precious resource.
Stan Oliver is an active volunteer with SPECS, which raises funds to assist seniors purchase eyeglasses and dentures. He writes from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.