It has been over a year since Teagan was murdered and in some ways it feels like it was just yesterday. There are days where you just sit there wondering how it possible that she could be gone – in reality, that is a part of every single day. But Teagan deserves more than sympathy and sorrow! So we must drive change to protect children across the planet. Once we recovered from the shock and horror of Teagan’s biological mother ending her life we started to think about what could we have done to save her.
The reality is we spent countless hours and dollars over many years but we could not get her to a safer place. So then you think if we could not get Teagan out of this risky environment then what family possibly could? So we began to examine how our systems fail to actually protect children and the harsh reality that they have NO ‘voice’ in the process.
It is a very complex system and frankly, it’s failing our children every day. You simply need to read the newspaper to see children murdered and abused in Canada every month (if not every week). Simply google Turcotte or Goforth is you want to shed a few tears and it makes you wonder if we learned nothing from the murder of Zachary Bagby in 2003.
This can’t be acceptable and we refused to simply walk away from a situation where other children are at risk.
So then you have to decide where to begin in the morass of incompetence, complexity and tears. We talked to bureaucrats, politicians, administrators, mental health professionals, Ministers and more. They provided feedback, guidance and an internal view of how we can address the situation.
We also had many people reach out with wonderful causes and ideas. Shared parenting and father’s rights groups are working hard to provide equity but we found that the real gap among activists was a focus on children having a voice, accountability of the players and oversight of the process. As a result, we decided that our three key goals going forward are to address the following…
- Professional Duty of Reporting Child Welfare Situations: we need accountability to eliminate professional indifference and act on the warning signs that are almost always present.
- Legal Representation for Children in Family Court: We live in a system of rule of law and until Children have their own seat at that table their human rights can never be respected.
- Appointment of a Federal Children’s Advocate: It’s an extremely complex environment with multiple jurisdictions that requires National coordination and passion from within the system.
Each instance will require a different set of tactics but legislation, procedure, enforcement and awareness will all be required. It will be a long battle full but we are committed to change.