Renee Byrne (second from left) of Victim Services, Department of Justice speaks with attendees at an information session Friday at the Husky Energy Easter Seals House in St. John’s. The event concerned the prevention of violence, especially against persons with disabilities. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
“There’s no easy answer,” was the most common response to questions at a violence prevention information session held at the Easter Seals House in St. John’s Friday afternoon.
The information session comes exactly one week after a 24-year-old disabled man reported he was lured into a wooded area behind a movie theatre in Mount Pearl and brutally beaten.
Five teenagers were taken into custody after the incident.
“We need to talk about how we prevent this sort of appalling, brutal attack from ever happening again,” said Mark Lane, executive director and CEO of Easter Seals Newfoundland and Labrador.
The event brought members of the disabled community, law enforcement, government agencies, and other partners together to share ideas and talk about how violence, against the disabled in particular, can be stopped.
“We wanted to generate awareness on violence, in particular against persons with disabilities, and to talk about how we prevent it from happening in the future,” said Lane.
Representatives from the RNC, RCMP, Coalition Against Violence, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice discussed their respective violence prevention and help programs.
Officials took questions from an audience of more than 50 people, though answers were hard to come by.
Lane said though some violence can be prevented, not all incidents like the beating in Mount Pearl last weekend can be stopped completely.
“Will it ever happen again? Unfortunately, I think it may,” he said.
Renee Byrne, regional co-ordinator of Victim Services for the Department of Justice, spoke about the government program available to help victims of violence.
“We are available anytime after a crime has happened,” she said at the information session.
The program, which is offered free of charge to both adults and children, is intended to help victims know what their options are and make decisions on how to proceed after a crime has been committed.
Even if an incident was not reported to police at the time it happened, the service is still available.
“Our program is very much about empowerment and self-determination,” she said.