Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day is an important part of the push to end this preventable disability. It is absolutely essential to increase awareness of FASD, of the danger of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and of the need to support children with FASD.
In spite of society’s increasing knowledge about its effects, children continue to be born after being exposed to high amounts of alcohol while in the womb.
As a member of the Canadian Bar Association, I would like to share some new initiatives in the criminal justice system regarding FASD. The Canadian Bar Association recently updated their resolution to support access to justice for people with FASD and urge all levels of government to allocate additional resources for alternatives to the current practice of criminalizing individuals with FASD.
The association is also encouraging governments to develop policies designed to assist and enhance the lives of those with FASD and to prevent persistent over-representation of FASD-affected individuals in the criminal justice system. This is an important step in recognizing the support and treatment required for children and youth living with FASD, instead of disciplining them with jail time.
I hope that FASD Awareness Day will serve as a reminder to all of our responsibility to push for increased preventative awareness of the danger of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and to help support those living with FASD.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond
Representative for Children and Youth, British Columbia