FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued by Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard in recognition of World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse, Nov. 19, and National Child Day, Nov. 20:

The safety and well-being of the children and youth of New Brunswick is a priority for our government and should be for everyone. As the minister responsible for the oversight of families, children and youth, I feel it is very important to acknowledge these two days.

Our children and youth are the most vulnerable members of our society and depend on us to keep them safe. These young people are the future of New Brunswick, and each one of them deserves to grow up in a world free of abuse.

Our government is committed to working with stakeholders, partners and community members to ensure not only the prevention of child abuse, but also the promotion of an environment free of violence, neglect and abuse where children and youth can flourish.

The new Child and Youth Well-Being Act modernizes legislation related to children and youth and will provide better tools to ensure their protection and well-being. This new legislation puts New Brunswick children and youth at the forefront and provides greater consideration of the views and preferences of the child or young person in decision-making. Children and young people will be encouraged to express their views, according to their age and maturity.

There are many forms of child abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. Any form of abuse against our children and youth is wrong and must be stopped. New Brunswickers should never hesitate to report child abuse. Referrals to Child Protection Services can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling Social Development at 1-833-733-7835. Help is also available by contacting police or Crime Stoppers.