With files from Shelby Thom and Kyle Benning.
A new report from B.C.’s child watchdog says an alarming number of girls have been the victims of sexual violence while in the care of the provincial government.
B.C.’s Representative of Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s report finds that at least 121 children and youth experienced sexual violence between 2011 and 2014.
“Eighty-five per cent of sexual victimization of children and youth does not land in a courtroom, does not result in a criminal prosecution and therefore must result in some other sort of response.”
Most of those children were female and 74 were aboriginal girls.
Turpel-Lafond says the numbers are disturbing because they are young people who in many cases are already traumatized and whose protection is the responsibility of the government.
READ MORE: Children’s watchdog slams ministry review
The report found that one-quarter of the incidents were perpetrated by the child or youth’s foster parent, which Turpel-Lafond says represents a massive breach of trust.
“We can see a level of violence that is a) not being reported, b) not being responded to, and c) is really a level of violence that I guess with all due respect we are tolerating in British Columbia when we should not be tolerating it,” says Turpel-Lafond.
More than one-third occurred in care settings were at the hands of another child or youth in the same placement as the victim.
The Ministry of Children and Youth says it’s revising standards for social workers who assess, train, support and monitor foster parents; expanding an audit program to include the work of these social workers; and revising protocols for responding to allegations of harm in foster homes.
Oppositions speaks out
The Opposition spokesperson for the Ministry of Children and Family Development is fuming after hearing the report.
Melanie Mark says it seems like abuse is under reported and says it falls on the ministry to do something about it.
“Kids are reporting abuse to their social workers and it’s not even being reported to the police as far as I understand from this report. That’s not good enough. That’s called apathy. And actually it’s a lack of duty of care.”
Mark says it’s disturbing these children were removed from their homes and are now being re-victimized under the care of the ministry.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development has yet to respond to our interview request.