VICTORIA— B.C. New Democrat children and families spokesperson Melanie Mark issued the following statement about the Paige Gauthier case and the duty to report child abuse:
“Children rely on adults to protect them. All adults, not just a child’s parents, have a moral obligation to protect children. It’s not just an ethical duty – it’s the law in British Columbia. Anyone who witnesses or suspects child abuse is required to report their concerns. You can do so, toll free from anywhere in B.C. with this simple number: 310-1234.
“This law was put in place to ensure that everyone in British Columbia takes their responsibility to protect children seriously. It was put in place to put the best interests and rights of children at the centre. When we exercise our duty, we are ending cycles of pain and abuse. We are telling our children that their lives and safety matters.
“Paige Gauthier did not receive the protection that she needed and deserved. She was a talented and vibrant girl, who had a lot to offer in life, but she was never given that chance.
“The Representative for Children and Youth’s report into Paige’s life made it clear that the failure to report the danger that Paige was in was a major factor in her death.
“This report urged the Christy Clark government to take immediate action to inform and educate the public about the duty to report child abuse. Like so many other recommendations – this life-saving and life-changing recommendation was ignored.
“Instead of advertisements reminding the public of the importance of reporting child abuse – the Christy Clark government has spent tax dollars on ads congratulating themselves.
“Those advertisements don’t mention the hundreds of children that have been sexually abused in the care of the Christy Clark government.
“They don’t mention the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care.
“They don’t mention the two-year waitlists for children and youth mental health services, and the children who have died on those waitlists.
“Children have a right to be protected from abuse. If you see a child being abused, or have any reason to believe a child has been abused – report it. It’s the law and it’s the right thing to do.”