KAMLOOPS DAILY NEWS
Monday, May 15, 2000
Gov't hesitant about bringing law to rescue kids from pimps
VANCOUVER (CP) Claiming it's "too controversial," Children's Minister Gretchen Brewin says the government will not bring in legislation this year to allow authorities to rescue kids from pimps and drug dealers.
Laws to enable child protection workers and police to apprehend drug-addicted teens and place them in secure care for 72 hours against their will have been widely sought in B.C.
Among the supporters is the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
But Brewin told the annual meeting of the B.C. Association of Social Workers at the weekend that the idea is "too controversial."
Asked in what way it is controversial, Brewin, who has been minister for 2 ½ months, said, "I think it's a human rights issue."
She said senior ministry officials advised her that the idea is controversial and needs more discussion.
"I don't have views one way or another," she said.
Diane Sowden of the Children of the Streets Society was on the verge of tears Saturday when told of Brewin's decision.
"Because something may be controversial is no reason to back off," said Sowden, who was a member of a government task force called the Secure Care Working Group.
The group recommended the new legislation after it talked with parents, social workers, police, youth and others.
Sowden said only a minority of service providers opposed the idea.
"The Ministry for Children and Families is supposed to protect children and not take a position simply because it is easier and safer for them," said Sowden.
"My daughter was first on the streets at 13 years old, using crack cocaine and owned by a pimp. Child protection should have been able to rescue her. She was being controlled by a predator."
Judge Tom Gove, who headed the 1995 inquiry into child protection in B.C., has publicly supported secure care.
In court last June, he said the report of the Secure Care Working Group "addresses the concerns I have been seeing on a daily basis."
"My daughter will never ever have a normal life," said Sowden. "She had to leave B.C. to get off drugs and out of the sex trade. That was one year ago.
"If the ministry could have stepped in when she was 13 years old, she could have had a normal life. She wouldn't have given birth to two drug-affected babies who will suffer for the rest of their lives."
Created: April 16, 2001
Last modified: April 16, 2001
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