Thursday, August 3, 2000

David Turner

p. A11.

Fallible approach

As a member of the UVic school of social work and Vancouver Island Human Rights Coalition, and as a former youth probation officer, I am very concerned about the proposed Secure Care Act (Bill 25), which is oppressive and above all open to abuse.

The government's intention to assist children and youth in serious difficulty is laudable; it is the approach of secure care that is fallible.

Secure custody beds of all types once opened get filled, often very inappropriately as a substitute for non-existent services. Social workers and probation officers with heavy caseloads will be tempted to use secure care as a way of holding kids so that they can deal with their other needy children. Most importantly, it becomes a way for government of not providing creative community alternatives.

Energy and money for new alternatives to incarceration is sadly lacking. These provisions in Bill 25 are excessive social control. Secure care is very expensive and will absorb a disproportionate share of costs, leaving little money for alternative, preventive programs. It also violates the spirit of Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, "The right to life, liberty and security of person," justifying intervention under an outdated paternalistic motive.

What we need is a law giving children, youth and families the right to appropriate services that can be enforced by courts. Governments need to be held accountable to do this through a Children's Bill of Rights to Services. A police focus on pimps, johns and sexual abusers is more productive than a punitive one on young prostitutes. These approaches are a much better financial and social investment in our children and youth!

• David Turner, Victoria

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Last modified: June 7, 2001
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