NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release

Youth protection system
THE COMMISSION DES DROITS DE LA PERSONNE ET DES DROITS DE LA
JEUNESSE ISSUES RECOMMENDATIONS TO ADDRESS OVER-REPRESENTATION OF RACIALIZED YOUTH

MONTRÉAL, May 11, 2011 – In order to put an end to the over-representation of racialized groups in the youth protection system, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse recommends improving the training given to professionals working in Quebec’s healthcare, social services, and education networks.

In its Report of the consultation on racial profiling and its consequences, entitled: Racial profiling and systemic discrimination of racialized youth, the Commission recommends that the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS), working in collaboration with the ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS), provides intercultural and anti-racist training to these professionals to prevent the misinterpretation of family dynamics when dealing with children and youth from minority or immigrant backgrounds.

Studies have shown that young Blacks are nearly twice as likely to be the subject of a report to the Director of Youth Protection (DYP) than other children, but they are the subject of protection measures less often than other children, particularly in the form of removal from their families.

The Commission's report states that “prejudices and ethnocultural stereotypes can contribute to distorting the interpretation of the situation made by the healthcare and education professionals”. In order to prevent those professionals who are obliged to file a report pursuant to the Youth Protection Act from reaching hasty and unjustified conclusions, it would be helpful if they were made aware of the factors used by the DYP to assess the risks of mistreatment or neglect.

In addition to better training and reviewing the assessment criteria, the Commission believes that youth centres and health and social services centres (CSSS) should establish formal partnerships with community organizations that can provide intercultural expertise. Such partnerships could help prevent decision-making based on discriminatory biases resulting from prejudice or a misunderstanding of cultural differences during every step of the DYP’s intervention.

During its consultation, the Commission learned of a number of partnerships that have already proven their value, including the partnership between the Centre jeunesse de la Montérégie and Maison internationale de la Rive-Sud (an organization supporting and facilitating the integration of newly arrived immigrants); the program entitled Éduquons nos enfants sans corrections physiques (Let’s Educate our Children without Corporal Punishment), which is offered by Maison d’Haïti in collaboration with the Centre jeunesse de Montréal-Institut universitaire and the LaSalle Community Prevention Project, a partnership with the Batshaw Centres.

This last project, which was awarded a prize for excellence from the Association des centres jeunesse du Québec in 2008, was terminated in December 2009, because the MSSS decreed that youth centres were not authorized to provide prevention services.

The Commission is of the opinion that such partnerships are winning models that should become the standard rather than the exception in the area of youth protection, and that they should be funded by the MSSS.

The Commission also recommends that youth centres introduce procedures aimed at ensuring that an intercultural and anti-racist approach is considered at every level of their organization, and that all employees working at youth centres that serve a population of ethnic and racialized minorities should be required to take intercultural and antiracist training.

In addition, youth centres should develop and apply an interview protocol and hiring tests aimed at ensuring that the selection tools and hiring criteria properly measure the intercultural and anti-racist competencies of applicants in all job categories, including management.

To find out more about the Commission’s more than 90 recommendations and the report entitled: Racial profiling and systemic discrimination of racialized youth, please visit www.cdpdj.qc.ca.

-30-

Contact :           Patricia Poirier
                        (514) 873-5146 or 1 800 361-6477 ext. 358
                        patricia.poirier@cdpdj.qc.ca