Thursday, April 22, 1999
Gordon Clark, Kathy Tait and Jack Keating
They tried to save her from this
Terrified their daughter was being lured into drugs and prostitution, a mom and dad in Port Moody staged a home invasion in which the girl was tied up and threatened. Experts question what they did but what do you think?
Scare tactics backfire: Expert
Misguided attempts to help will drive kids into the arms of dealers
An addiction expert says he understands the fear that drove a Port Moody couple to stage a mock home invasion in a desperate bid to rescue their daughter from heroin and prostitution.
Trouble is, the parents have risked driving her farther into the arms of the pimps and dealers who have taken control of her life, said Mark Goheen, supervisor of addiction service for SHARE family and community services.
"Kids [addicted to drugs] will see that their parents are against them and the only ones who care for them are their pimp or dealer their mentors," he said.
"These interventions backfire because it reinforces the idea that their parents are assholes."
The 15-year-old's parents arranged for two men last week to burst into their home one morning when the girl was home alone.
They tied her to a chair and threatened her over her association with drug dealers and pimps in downtown Vancouver.
The parents had not intended police to become involved, but a family member who didn't know about the parents' action called 911 after dropping by the home and hearing the realistic threats.
Crown counsel should decide by next week whether criminal charges will be laid, said Port Moody Const. Robb McGirr.
"While police investigators remain sympathetic to the plight of the parents police are particularly concerned with the serious dangers associated with responding to events on false or misleading information," he said.
Police didn't identify the family.
Goheen said parents face a huge challenge once a child is hooked on heroin.
"Kids who don't have a solid connection with their parents are most at risk," he said.
Goheen said kids hooked on heroin need long-term residential treatment.
But there is only one such facility the eight-bed Peak House in east Vancouver to serve all B.C. except for one program in Prince George for natives.
The waiting list for Peak House's eight-week program is 14 months an eon to a teen in need.
"It's pathetic, isn't it?" said Goheen.
McGirr said the police support calls for changes to the law to give parents the power to detain their children and force them into treatment. B.C. is considering those kinds of changes to the law.
Goheen said it would not be illegal for parents to take a child against his will to a remote area for several weeks to allow the kid to clear his head of drugs and re-connect with the family.
He doubted that authorities would intervene if there was no violence.
Kids say staged invasion dumb
"Asinine" and "ridiculous" were some of the more polite words teenagers at a Port Moody youth forum used last night to describe a parent-staged home invasion.
"I would lose a lot of trust in my parents if they did that," said Sarah Sahulka, 17. "That's totally asinine. Parents need to talk to her, not try to scare the crap out of her. It's too extreme."
Said Jessica O'Neill, 17: "That would create fear in her own home. It's ridiculous. You don't scare a kid into being good."
What the parents did "teaches the child to retaliate," said Matt Osborne, 14. "The parents should sit down and talk to her about it and try to talk her out of it."
The parents should take their daughter to counselling because of what they did to her, said Lisa Lajeunesse, 12, adding: "She might be really damaged inside. My parents wouldn't do this."
But while the parent-staged home invasion "might be a little harsh," said Trevor Laird, 14, "I think it's right to set her straight."In downtown Vancouver, street kids said parents should communicate with teens rather than resort to drastic and illegal measures.
"That's a really terrifying step for a parent to take," said Genevieve Lalonde, 19, who is turning her life around thanks to intervention by staff at Covenant House for street youth at risk. "I couldn't imagine being forced to endure something as terrifying as that by your parents.
"It's ignorant, in my opinion. It's an excuse for the parents not to discuss the problem with their kids."
Said Chantal Stevenson, 17: "It's not a good thing to do. Kids won't listen if you try to scare them. It's just not going to work.
"Parents should have an understanding and try to explain and show her there's another way."
Said 19-year-old Paul Hollohan: "Parents shouldn't do something like that. It's not right. It's like kidnapping."
Covenant House staff agreed.
"I think those parents must be in a lot of pain to make a choice like that," said Chris Norris, a community support service worker.
So what should parents do if they're at their wits end with a wayward teen?
"I would encourage them to call us at Covenant House," said Norris. "We could come up with a plan of action in terms of intervention."
Created: April 22, 1999
Last modified: June 11, 2001
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