Community Bear Program
Helping us be there for children of tragic circumstance
If there are truly those who can be called innocent victims, it is the children who fall victim to tragic circumstance such as personal injury, traffic collisions and criminal acts including family violence and sexual abuse.
Children have little way of understanding what has happened to their parents or even to themselves in any of these stressful situations. Police officers know the trauma children suffer but while attempting to comfort child victims, officers so often become only one more frightening aspect of an already overwhelming and terrifying experience.
With the support of Aviva Canada, the new “Community Bear” is now on daily patrol in more than 1,600 of the OPP’s fleet of black and white cruisers across Ontario.
The Community Bears will be available for gifting to children in distress as a means of comforting them and forming a bond between the child and the officer.
What is the Community Bear program?
The OPP Community Bear program is in partnership with Aviva Canada Inc., and provides OPP officers with black and white teddy bears to give out to distressed children they encounter while carrying out their policing duties. Psychological studies show that stuffed animals can have a significant calming effect on children in stressful or traumatic circumstances and this program aims to achieve this.
How does the Community Bear program work?
When OPP officers are investigating a situation involving small children, a Community Bear may be gifted to a child to help them get through a traumatic experience, giving them something positive to focus on.
What are the Effects of a Traumatic Event on Children?
Children often experience a wide range of physical and emotional reactions during and following a traumatic event. The symptoms and feelings may last from a few days to a few months and typically fade over time as the child gradually processed that trauma.
Regardless of what causes the trauma, that child must cope with the loss, at least temporarily, of their sense of safety and security. Frightened or traumatized children – especially very young children – often express their feelings by means of behavioural changes. These changes are the child’s way of saying that he or she was overwhelmed by something very terrifying.
What are the emotional symptoms of trauma?
|Shock, denial, or disbelief||Confusion, difficulty concentrating|
|Anger, irritability, mood swings||Anxiety and fear|
|Guilt, shame, self-blame||Withdrawing from others|
|Sadness and hopelessness||Feeling disconnected or numb|
What are the physical symptoms of trauma?
|Insomnia or nightmares||Fatigue|
|Being startled easily||Difficulty concentrating|
|Racing heartbeat||Edginess and agitation|
|Aches and pains||Muscle tension|
Canadian Centre for Child Protection
Victim Services Ontario
November 3, 2012: Two (2) year old
girl injured and upset from involvement in motor vehicle collision.
Twenty Nine year (29) OPP Veteran Officer presented child with Community Bear and reported:"she received the bear and her smile lit up the ambulance!"