Kinship Intervention Program provides youth and family support

Bobby was about 10 years old when he moved to the city where he met his friend John. Bobby and John were inseparable. They could often be found together in class, on the playground, on the bus and at each other’s houses after school. Bobby’s mother Janice was relieved that her son found at least one good friend in the city, since they left their family, friends and community back on the Nation.

It was quickly turning to winter and the school was getting ready for the upcoming holiday break. Janice was working a lot more hours to ensure her and Bobby had enough money for the holidays. They were going to go home to the Nation to spend the holidays with family and friends. Thank goodness Bobby has his best friend John to keep him occupied while she worked late hours.

Finally, the holidays were here and Janice and Bobby traveled back to the Nation to settle in with family and friends. Bobby went off to play with his cousins while the adults caught up with Janice.

Then, just as quickly as the kids had all vanished, they returned all wearing sad, surprised faces. No one was talking. They all were attached to their parent. Finally, Janice asked “What is up? Why are you all hanging out with the adults? And why is Bobby sitting by himself?”

Bobby spoke up and said “I’m not sitting by myself. I just want to be comfortable.”

One of Bobby’s cousins then told Janice that Bobby was doing something that is “not okay.”

“Oh,” Janice replied, “What was he doing that was not okay?”

Then in unison three of Bobby’s cousins spoke up and said “Bobby was taking off his pants and wanted us to do it too.”

“Oh,” said Janice, and then she asked Bobby if this was true.

Bobby replied “yes” but that he and his friend John did it all the time and it seemed to make him happy.

Janice hugged Bobby and said to him “You should not have to play like that to make someone happy.”

Whether you live on the Nation or in the city, the Kinship Intervention Program (KIP) is available throughout central Alberta to provide support to your family as you define it. It works collaboratively towards the prevention of sexual violence in central Alberta’s Indigenous youth population. It also aims to address the intergenerational impacts of Indian Residential Schools (IRS) and the legacy of sexual trauma, really to start the conversation.

“We do not walk this path alone,” is the main message of KIP.

KIP is both an intervention and prevention initiative that deals with sexually acting out behaviours. Sexually acting out refers to youth who engage in sexual behaviours that are either not age-appropriate, hurtful to others or elicit adult concern. Youth sexually act out for many different reasons which can include increased sexual exploration, exhibitionism, excessive masturbation (often in public), inappropriate physical boundaries, intense preoccupation with sexual matters and sexual aggression towards other youth, adults or animals.

Through strategic community partnerships, networking, and development, KIP initially targets service providers, community leaders, educators and others who are involved in, or have direct contact with, Indigenous youth and/or their families/guardians. KIP initiates community (service provider) dialogue and engagement in the development and implementation of healthy, age-appropriate, and socially acceptable sexual behaviour in context with the youth’s environment. We clearly can’t address the situation if we can’t talk about it, nor will it go away.

KIP is continuously networking and identifying new community engagement opportunities like those in schools, recreation groups and community organizations. We can provide information sessions, healthy sexuality workshops, knowledge and awareness and family supports, all of which contribute to a healthy environment for all. It is okay to talk about sex and sexuality in a respectful, healthy and informed way.

KIP is a program offered by the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC). CASASC is a place that specializes in healing sexual trauma so you can talk freely about the hard stuff with no judgement. We provide a range of support services for individuals who are affected by sexual violence including counselling, play therapy, police and court support, crisis support and education.

KIP offers a combination of early intervention practices and a community-based approach, integrating anyone in the youth’s support network or community. We are available to answer questions, provide family support, individual counselling through the clinical team at CASASC, and most importantly, we are here to listen without judgement.

KIP is available to any Indigenous youth aged six to 17 who exhibit sexualized behaviour concerns or engage in “sexual acting out.” The program works collaboratively with the youth’s family and elders. It assists in addressing the intergenerational impacts of IRS and the legacy of sexual trauma by building relationships, increasing the capacity of service providers, navigating the process for service and support, providing referrals, in-person or virtual mental health services, crisis intervention and mental health services for the entire family. Remember, when your child hurts, you hurt.

CASASC offers a 24-hour helpline for those dealing with sexual violence impacts in our community. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to all of Alberta. Text or call anytime at 1-866-956-1099. Webchat can be accessed at

Article contributed by Tammy Barbour, Community Engagement Facilitator for KIP at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.