PLUSES AND MINUSES IN YOUTH DETOX LAW
Regarding the article, "Youth detox law trashed" in the April 26 Leader- Post, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
The Children's Advocate has got it only partly right. The legislation providing for an involuntary intervention when youth abuse substances to the extent that they might be a harm to themselves or others might not be "enlightened" ( quoting the Children's Advocate ), but neither is it draconian.
As a society, we restrict peoples' rights all the time, especially those of children and youth, respecting that their maturity level ( the capacity to make informed decisions ) is different from that of adults. The "new" law is an extension of legislation that has been around for decades, the Mental Health Act -- had that act been used to intervene in severe addiction problems affecting young people, there would have been no need to construct new legislation.
Where the new legislation falls short, and where the Children's Advocate has got it right, is that the application of the new legislation is a patchwork attempt and takes a health problem and criminalizes it ( the intervention is at the Paul Dojack Youth Centre in the south; I know new facilities are being built, but again, it's a patchwork attempt ). Involuntary care should not be in a locked facility, should only be for the protection of life ( either the youth's or that of others ) and should be part of an array of services based in the community; and, involuntary care should only be sanctioned by a trained physician( s ).
There needs to be legislation providing for life-threatening situations, when youth high on drugs and alcohol threaten themselves or the community. The government fell short when its first priority was involuntary care rather than an array of community services, of which involuntary care should be a small part. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater, we need community based interventions, specifically geared to young people and a way of keeping them safe IF they pose a threat to themselves or others.
Greenberg is with the department of justice studies at the University of Regina.
Tue, 09 May 2006
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2006 The Leader-Post Ltd.