Sunday, November 1, 1998

Barbara McLintock
and Kathy Tait
Staff Reporters

p. A3.

Involuntary teen-care plan on hold

Civil-liberties issue requires full public debate, Boone says

A system of involuntary "safe care" for youth putting themselves in danger won't be in place in B.C. any time in the near future.

Children and Families Minister Lois Boone said Friday such a big change in approach to care requires a full public debate.

She's begun by giving people five months to comment on the newly released report recommending that youth in extreme danger should be held against their will for up to 72 hours — until a longer-term plan can be worked out for them.

Youth involved would mainly be those seriously drug addicted or being exploited in the sex trade.

Boone said the idea "raises important civil liberty questions that require further examination and discussion."

She said she also accepts the idea of a continuum of care for high-risk children and youth, and ensuring voluntary services are available.

The report has received good reviews.

The office of Children's Commissioner Cynthia Morton said that "overall, we believe this is a good report" — especially the emphasis on the continuum o care needed by teens in trouble.

Morton has noted that the system often pours resources into a youth in what turns out to be the last few months of his or her life — but does little earlier when real help might have been possible.

B.C. child advocate Joyce Preston wants to have the proposals fast-tracked: "Children need help today, and not to have it abandons them unfairly."

Under the proposals of the secure-care working group, children at extreme risk from drugs or pimps could be held for up to 72 hours, against their will, until a plan is in place for their treatment or safety. Power to hold them would go to designated police or childrens' workers.

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Created: November 6, 1998
Last modified: June 7, 2001
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