Increase in VTRA Cases Across the Country

“It’s Not Just You”

In earlier communications from CTIP we highlighted that due to the lingering effects of quarantine (“Impaired Closeness-Distance Cycle”), some students would be so relieved to make in-person reconnections with school staff and peers that symptom development to the pressures of the pandemic would be minimal in the 2020-2021 academic year. This period is what we refer to as a “delayed response”.

For the current academic year (2021-2022) however, it was evident that whether the pandemic was in a fourth wave or it was deemed “Endemic”, this would be the time for the delayed responses to begin to be expressed. 

At CTIP we have seen how some protocol regions have had a 500% percent increase in VTRA cases since September compared to pre-pandemic norms. Many others are reporting increases in:
  • Severity of cases
  • Younger Individuals of Concern (IOC) than Pre-Pandemic
  • Significant sexual acting out
  • Young female violence
  • Ongoing social media threats and targeted/chronic harassment

In particular, sexual assaults or threats of the same have spiked in some areas including boys aged 10 to 12. We have seen some children, as young as 10, who have found their way into the Dark Web. There is also an increase in non-traditional students or IOC’s (Individuals of Concern) that have previously had no history of violence or threat making behaviour. However, no two VTRA protocol regions are the same. Spikes in particular types of cases unique to each region may reflect pre-pandemic dynamics that have been intensified by a worldwide pandemic or manifest as a result of pandemic abuses, including an 81% increase in online childhood sexual exploitation cases across Canada.

But the sky is not falling! This current period of heightened activity was predictable and the reason for the attached “Interim Guidelines” that was released this Spring.

We strongly recommend that, in order to deal with these delayed responses, VTRA Committees appoint a small team to review these guidelines so that multidisciplinary teams can be brought together to conduct systems assessments unique to each region. Identifying the actual frequency and intensity of local cases will help with the planning of strategic interventions for such. It will also create the opportunity for VTRA partners to engage after almost two years of modified service delivery.

“Treat the big things big and the little things little.” This is big right now so true collaborative efforts will prevent the more profound delayed responses for some when we get post-pandemic. This is a mental health wave we must ride for now, but it will settle down! You are not alone.

J. Kevin Cameron