COPA National's goals
To develop, consolidate, and disseminate high-quality assault prevention educational resources for children and youth based on recognized best practices;
To engender individual and collective commitment to facilitating empowerment and fostering safe, strong and free environments for children and youth; and,
To help consolidate and support a Franco-Ontarian resource network in the field of child and youth violence prevention.
COPA National is a Francophone provincial non-profit organization with charitable status.
Our goal is to prevent child abuse and promote positive social change. Since it was founded over twenty years ago, over 150,000 students and adults have received our educational programs in both French- and English-language schools in Ontario.
In 2021, COPA (Centre ontarien de prévention des agressions) became COPA National (Centre d’orientation pour la prévention des agressions) and is now offering resources and programs throughout Canada.
COPA National strives for the recognition of human rights—in particular, children’s rights, and those of social groups who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and abuse.
Our innovative, practical and inspiring programs and multimedia resources are evidence-based, and founded on principles of equity and inclusion. They are designed to reach out to all, including those who typically don’t have a voice, and may feel left out.
At the heart of COPA National’s work is a commitment to ensuring that all of us feel that we belong and that we all have meaningful opportunities to nurture safe, strong and free schools and communities – young people, parents, guardians, siblings, teachers, administrators, support staff, associated professionals and community workers.
COPA National is the Ontario Coordinator of the Francophone Settlement Workers in Schools Program, supported by IRCC.
Our contributions to enhancing the quality of public education have been officially recognized with awards by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario Francophone Teachers’ Association, both of whom actively collaborate with COPA National, and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.
COPA National is unique
COPA National provides much-sought-after and regionally appropriate resources for students of all ages, schools staff, parents, guardians, caregivers and community players throughout Ontario Canada.
COPA National provides a wide range of whole-school programs and workshops, each one oriented to different age groups or focusing on different themes.
COPA National offers unique and specialized training, consultation, curriculum development, evaluation, coalition-building and policy-development in the field of child and youth assault prevention and building healthy, equal relations at home, at school and in the community.
COPA National understands violence and bullying as an equity and social inclusion issue. Our analysis is feminist, rights-based and posits empowerment as the key strategy for meaningful-long-lasting comprehensive positive change.
COPA National collaborates with a number of provincial associations, such as the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Teachers' Federation.
COPA National helps develop and explore promising practices in the field of child and youth assault prevention and in supporting the establishment and dissemination of high-quality prevention education programs and resources.We all have the right to be safe, strong and free.
We all have the right to be safe, strong and free.
COPA National envisions a world in which all children, all youth and all people can flourish and reach their full potential. In such a place, children and youth will be safe, both physically and emotionally; their strengths and capacities will be respected; and they will live freely, while respecting others’ needs to be so too.
COPA National's mission is to mobilize public commitment to reduce children’s vulnerability to abuse and break the cycle of violence.
COPA National supports the establishment of high-quality assault prevention education programming in Canada, as well as the creation of new tools and resources for assault prevention.
This is carried out by:
ensuring the transfer of information and resources to new communities throughout Canada;
helping facilitate program and resource access to and support for under-serviced and isolated communities;
ensuring that new curriculum, resources and tools are created, evaluated and disseminated in a timely and appropriate fashion;
fostering the development and consolidation of potential/actual partnerships whose mandate is distinct yet linked;
supporting the expansion of COPA National's capacity to create, provide and disseminate resources consistent with its vision and approach.
COPA National's approach
COPA National strives for the creation of safe, strong and free communities, with a focus on the following elements:
The recognition of the social minority status of children (and youth) and commitment to policy, initiatives and practices that foster individual and collective empowerment.
The recognition of Francophone social minority status in Ontario and other Canadian provinces and commitment to policy, initiatives and practices imagined, developed and managed by and for Francophones.
The recognition of systemic inequality and discrimination and commitment to policy, initiatives and practices that foster positive social change.
The recognition of and commitment to a feminist and anti-oppression analysis and model that inform policy, initiatives and practices.
The recognition of the reality of geographically and socially isolated communities in Ontario and Canada and commitment to active outreach, collaboration and service provision in regions that are typically under-serviced.
Values and beliefs
(The term children denotes any person under 18 years of age.)
COPA National considers children to be a marginalized group in our society. Due to this generally unrecognized and unquestioned social status, children as a group are particularly vulnerable to assault.
Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National strive to recognize children’s marginalization and to advocate for their rights, particularly the right of each child to be safe, strong and free.
(The term safe, strong and free is trademarked by COPA National, appearing in all its programs and resources. It refers to the fundamental right of all human beings to live free from all forms of violence. Creators of the Child Assault Prevention (CAP) Project (Women Against Rape, see details below), COPA National’s core program, conceived of this term as a tool for presenting the notion of rights and personal limits to young children, enabling them to engage in age-appropriate discussions about assault prevention that are adapted to their developmental level. The term is effective for use with all age groups including adults.)
COPA National believes that abuse of power is the basis of all situations involving assault. Lack of power links all forms of violence, whether it is verbal, sexual, physical, psychological, institutional or financial, whether it is perpetrated against a person or a group of people, or against a child, a woman or a member of any other marginalized social group.
It follows that lack of power—social or personal—underlies all situations involving assault, which is by definition an abuse of power. Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National are based on a definition of assault informed by a feminist analysis of the power dynamics inherent in all forms and situations of assault.
Equity and inclusion
COPA National believes that all structures, institutions and relationships in our society are predicated upon inequity and social exclusion leading to the marginalization of children, women and other social groups. Inequity and exclusion are rooted in and perpetuated by a set of systemic, pervasive and discriminatory beliefs and practices.
Inequity and exclusion increase people’s vulnerability to assault, triggering and perpetuating a cycle of violence against children, women and all other marginalized social groups.
Strategies for assault prevention are only effective if they aim to promote equity and inclusion by facilitating the individual and collective empowerment of socially marginalized groups and individuals.
Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National are based on an anti-oppression approach. Such an approach recognizes the link between all forms of oppression and seeks to prevent assault through the promotion of social equity and inclusion of children, women and all other socially marginalized groups.
Intersecting layers of power and privilege
COPA National recognizes that an individual can simultaneously identify with multiple social groups with different levels of social status. When this occurs, the individual experiences intersections between the varied layers of their power and privilege. The blending of multiple identities leads to an acutely personal experience that constructs that individual’s distinct identity. Experiencing multiple levels of oppression may also exacerbate an individual’s vulnerability to inequity and exclusion, particularly assault.
Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National strive to identify and recognize the specific lived experiences of all people. This involves listening to the voices of marginalized people in all their diversity and ensuring these voices are heard.
Factors of vulnerability
COPA National believes that certain social factors—such as a lack of information, dependence and isolation—make children and women (and all marginalized social groups) particularly vulnerable to assault.
Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National strive to reduce the vulnerability of children (and women, and members of all marginalized social groups) to assault. COPA National promotes strategies that address these factors by facilitating their skill development, increasing their options, expanding their mobility and their ability to take action, providing information, encouraging peer support and expanding their personal and community resources. COPA National’s strategies seek to reduce children’s vulnerability (and that of women and all marginalized groups) at both an individual and a collective level.
(Note: This analysis of the social factors that increase the vulnerability to violence of members of marginalized social groups was originally developed by the group Women Against Rape in 1978 in Columbus, Ohio in the United States. This conceptual framework lays the foundation for the Child Assault Prevention (CAP) Project—COPA National’s core program—and for the entire body of COPA National’s programming and resources. The theory has remained as relevant, valid and applicable to this day as it was when originally created in 1978.)
COPA National recognizes that people’s sexual orientations are diverse and the gender of every human being exists on a continuum.
Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National seek to include the lived experiences and realities of people of all sexual orientations and all forms of gender expression.
Power dynamics based on sex and the specificity of sexist violence
COPA National recognizes that all people who identify as girls or women are exposed to a form of social marginalization based on sexism, a distinct and specific form of social inequity and exclusion. Sexism is the root cause of diverse manifestations of the inequity and exclusion of people who identify as girls or women, of which sexist violence is one example.
COPA National recognizes the gravity of all forms of sexist violence, a reality that is perpetuated by secrecy and silence. COPA National also recognizes that the form, nature, frequency and causes of sexist violence are distinct from those forms of violence that are perpetrated against other marginalized groups, as are the power dynamics at play.
Therefore the specific characteristics of sexist violence and the particular vulnerability of people who identify as girls or women are taken into consideration whenever resources and activities are created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National.
Child sexual assault including children who identify as boys
COPA National believes that children in all their diversity are vulnerable to sexual assault due to their marginalized social status. Child sexual assault is a hidden and underestimated reality. COPA National also recognizes that sexual assault of children who identify as boys is particularly hidden and underestimated. Consequently, it is important to expose and shift this reality in order to break the cycle of violence and ensure that all children, including those who identify as boys, and all people, are safe, strong and free. By doing so, we foster the creation of healthy, equal relationships and environments.
Therefore COPA National condemns sexual assault perpetrated against children in all their diversity—including those who identify as boys—and expends every possible effort to eliminate this form of assault.
The link between violence against children and other marginalized social groups
COPA National believes there is a link between the causes and forms of violence against children and that of violence against women (and all socially marginalized groups). Consequently, COPA National asserts that in order to prevent violence against children, it is necessary to prevent violence against women (and all socially marginalized groups).
Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National strive to underscore the link between violence against children and women (and other socially marginalized groups) and the social factors that increase their vulnerability to violence.
The cycle of violence
COPA National believes there is a cycle of violence increasing the likelihood that violence will be perpetuated from one generation to the next. The cycle can be attributed to a range of individual and social factors that maintain children and women (and all marginalized social groups) in vulnerable situations.
Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National aim to break the cycle of violence against children and women (and all marginalized social groups). The goal is to promote positive change through reflection, learning, skill and knowledge-building, by changing attitudes and beliefs, and by changing social structures that contribute to perpetuating the cycle of violence.
In order to prevent violence and promote the rights of children and all marginalized social groups, COPA National advocates an approach that fosters their individual and collective empowerment. This approach highlights and validates the needs, skills, strengths and abilities of children, women and other marginalized social groups.
Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National aim to build children’s knowledge and to recognize and develop their abilities, as well as their individual and collective resources.
Fostering children’s ability to resist assault and engage in peer support are essential components of assault prevention. That said, COPA National asserts that ultimately, children’s wellbeing remains the responsibility of adults—not only those who care for them, but all adults in our society. To this end, COPA National is committed to encouraging and reinforcing adults’ motivation and to build their capacity to engage in child and teen assault prevention.
Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National aim to raise adults’ awareness while offering them tools and skills enabling them to recognize and alter the factors that perpetuate assault. COPA National invites all members of the broader community to engage with child assault prevention efforts and initiatives in order to ensure that all children and all people can exercise their fundamental right to be safe, strong and free.
COPA National identifies as a Francophone organization, committed to ensuring the provision of French language services as a priority. This commitment is based on the recognition that historically, Franco-Ontarians and Francophones from other provinces were denied the right to thrive and develop fully as a social group, a right that is still denied to this day.
Therefore COPA National maintains a Francophone identity and all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National seek to highlight and validate the strength, capacity and identity of Franco-Ontarian and other francophone communities.
COPA National believes that by recognizing and celebrating diversity within communities throughout Ontario and Canada, we can break the cycle of violence predicated upon ignorance, hatred and fear of differences. A world where children (and all people) perceive differences as a source of richness is a world where each person can be safe, strong and free.
Therefore all resources and activities created, developed, adapted and disseminated by COPA National strive to lessen fear and hatred of differences and to explicitly illustrate and express the value of differences in our society. This includes differences based on gender identity, age, physical appearance and ability, intellectual ability, sexual identity, ethnocultural origins, language, religion, socio-economic level and immigration or refugee status.
Accessibility to service
COPA National’s primary purpose is to promote feminist values and principles founded on strategies aimed at equity and inclusion. In the long term, COPA National seeks to promote the rights and prevent the assault of children in all their diversity (and of all marginalized groups). To realize this vision, COPA National always strives to hear children’s needs, to understand their lived experience and to respond adequately to these.
Therefore COPA National takes all necessary measures and validates all steps aimed at ensuring that all members of society have access to its resources and can participate in its activities. COPA National recognizes the value and importance of efforts at all levels of the organization to eliminate obstacles and ensure accessibility to its programs and resources in the community at large.
COPA National recognizes the contribution and the importance—historically, in the current context and in the future—of feminist activists in the child assault prevention movement.
Therefore COPA National encourages the leadership of feminist activists in the struggle against sexist violence within the organization and in the delivery of services. COPA National encourages partnerships with institutional and community services where the specific expertise of feminist activists in the areas of violence against women, its impacts on children and its prevention, is recognized.
COPA (Centre ontarien de prévention des agressions) was founded in 1995 and incorporated as a non-profit organization in May 2002. It was created in response to requests from Franco-Ontarian groups all around the province for training and information about assault prevention education programs for children and teens.
In 2021, COPA became COPA National (Centre d’orientation pour la prévention des agressions) and is now able to offer its services throughout Canada.
COPA National’s history maps onto the history of the programming it supports and implements to fulfil its mandate. Furthermore, all of COPA National’s programs are rooted in its core program - the Child Assault Prevention (CAP) Project. The common elements that link all COPA National’s programming – philosophy, analysis of social factors increasing vulnerability to violence, approach – have their origins in the CAP Project.
COPA National also creates, develops, adapts and disseminates a wide array of educational resources in the area of assault prevention – in French and in English - for children and youth in Ontario and Canada. Furthermore, COPA National prioritizes the needs of isolated and underserved communities – particularly Franco-Ontarian communities and other underserved Canadian francophone communities - with a view to building their capacity and responding to their needs.