When crimes happen, victims are the ones who suffer most and a groundbreaking program at Algonquin College hopes to ensure they get the care they deserve.
Starting in September, Algonquin College will offer a one-year diploma program in Victimology, the first such program of its kind offered in Canada, with an aim towards putting the spotlight back onto victims.
“Criminology focuses on crimes and criminals and victims are treated as a by-product. Victims often feel people aren’t responding to them. We owe it to people who’ve been victimized to know what we’re doing so they’re not being further victimized,” said Ruth Campbell, coordinator of the Victimology program at Algonquin. Campbell is an experienced therapist and social worker who chairs the Office for Victims of Crime in Ontario. She says victims are often forgotten in the wake of interest in scandalous crimes and criminals.
“There’s a sense that people find it more interesting to talk about the offender so the victim gets the runabout. There needs to be a shift in focus in saying hold on a second, we’ve got people who’ve been left behind here,” Campbell said.
The program will include courses on topics like legal ramifications for victims, violence against women, assessment and intervention techniques as well as a practicum component where students will complete a field assignment working with victims of crime. The program is designed to offer training and skills fundamental to careers in policing, court services, law, social work and many other victim-related fields.
Entrants to the one-year program need a diploma or degree in a related field and one-to-three years of field experience either through paid work or as a volunteer. The full-time program will invite 30 students in its first year.