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‘Heartbreaking’ case of continued abuse, says minister


By Cara McKenna Windspeaker Contributor VICTORIA







The Ministry for Children and Family Development failed in its dealings with an 11-year-old Aboriginal boy with complex care and rage issues, reads a report released Feb. 7 by B.C. Children’s Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafonde about a tasering incident in the province’s north.

The report, entitled “Who Protected Him? How B.C.’s Child Welfare System Failed One Of Its Most Vulnerable Children” is a result of an in-depth investigation into what Turpel-Lafonde calls a “disturbing case” of a boy who has suffered a lifetime of abuse and neglect.

In 2011, the boy gathered media attention when he was tasered by an RCMP officer in Prince George, but Turpel-Lafonde told reporters at a Victoria press conference the taser incident was the least of the abuses suffered by the boy.

“The sad reality of this report is that the tasering by the police of this boy at 11 years old is probably one of the least traumatic things that happened to him when I look at the 22 critical incidents reported to my office, including nine since the tasering,” she said.

“The Ministry of Children and Family Development did not follow basic child welfare practice, in this child’s case virtually since the day he was born.”

According to the report, the boy suffered abuse and neglect for two years in his parental home.

When the ministry removed him, they placed him in a foster home where he experienced further abuse and neglect.

When he was finally moved to a foster home that supported his special needs, the ministry failed to provide support to keep him in this home, returning the boy to his abusive mother for less than a year before being moved nine more times to date.

The boy was also locked in a “safe room” where he was isolated when he became aggressive.

 “The ministry also failed to fully explore a promising adoption opportunity with an Aboriginal family that might have given the child a chance for a richer life,” reads the report.

“There is no doubt that the child who is the subject of this report presents behavioural issues that are extremely challenging for caregivers. But this does not excuse the ministry from its duty to provide care and nurturing for this child and others like him. The ministry’s core business is to care for B .C.’s most vulnerable children. Its responsibility is to find ways to do so that further the child’s development and protect him from harm.”

Turpel-Lafonde said she is not happy with the boy’s current circumstances, although, for the boy’s protection, couldn’t elaborate.

Stephanie Cadieux, the minister of children and family development, told the media that she was disappointed and heartbroken by the report.

“We are accepting all the recommendations in this report,” said Cadieux.

“I am heartbroken that the system failed this child, and I am committed to fixing it.”