Swift Current to screen people who work with children

The mayor of Swift Current and Sheldon Kennedy are working on certification for people who work with children, which includes a criminal record check.

After 2 high-profile sex abuse cases, the city is partnering with Sheldon Kennedy to create a new program

Sheldon Kennedy and his company, Respect Group, are working with the City of Swift Current to develop a certification tool for people who work with children.

A survivor of abuse at the hands of Graham James, and the City of Swift Current are working on a program that would help screen people who work with children.

"It's a tough topic. Nobody likes talking about it. Societal pressure kind of makes you just want to forget about it," Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer told CBC Saskatchewan's Blue Sky. But Schafer says communities have to start talking.

Sheldon Kennedy, a former hockey player and survivor of abuse from James, along with a city committee, are working on a certification tool that would include a criminal record check. It would also include training to prevent bullying, harassment, and abuse.

Mayor Jerrod Schafer says communities need to start talking about sexual abuse and not just sweep it under the carpet. (City of Swift Current)

Schafer says the Graham James incidents have heightened the awareness of sexual abuse. Then, after a man in nearby Cabri was convicted of four counts of sexual abuse against minors recently, Schafer felt the community had to start talking about this more.

"Kids come to Swift Current and it should be the best years of their lives and playing for the Broncos should be some of their best memories. We've got a generation where for some of them the memories are horrific."

Schafer says working in a financial field, he has to get training and re-certification all the time. But there's very little if you're working with children.

"We have to do it to work with people's money but to set up a day home or be a music teacher there's nothing that's required." 

The city would keep a database of everyone who is certified. It would be up to organizations to decide who is required to get the certification. Schafer says ultimately it would be voluntary, but he's hoping community pressure will mean anyone who works with kids will have to get certification because parents will demand it.

He hopes the tool they develop might help other cities and towns.

"This isn't just a Swift Current issue. It's not just a hockey issue. This is happening everywhere. We need to start talking about it."


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