BC Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth. (Photo supplied by Representative for Children and Youth Office)
(Files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)
BC’s Representative for Children and Youth unveiled some alarming numbers when it comes to Metis youth experiencing critical injuries or even death.
Jennifer Charlesworth’s report called Invisible Children: A Descriptive Analysis of Injury and Death Reports for Metis Children and Youth zeroed in on the timeline from 2015 to 2017 where it was discovered sexualized violence is the most common injury for females in government care.
Charlesworth outlined to Vista Radio the second and third most common critical injuries
“Suicide attempts and suicide completions were second and that was something that came up for us and then the third most common critical injury was around caregiver mistreatment.”
Forty-four of the 183 injuries turned out to be sexualized violence.
“It’s important for us to understand that young women who are Metis that are in care are more likely to experience sexualized violence, they are more vulnerable as a result of what’s happened to them and the lack of connection that they have with culture and community,” added Charlesworth.
The reported stated over half of Métis children and youth who experienced critical injuries exhibited symptoms of an anxiety disorder and more than one-quarter experienced symptoms of depression, with these symptoms more prevalent in girls.
Other mental health concerns included post-traumatic stress syndrome, psychosis, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders.
“These young people based on what’s happened to them, the trauma they experienced, the disconnection to culture and community gives way to more mental health concerns and therefore, more likelihood of other harms.”
“For many of these young people, they have lived in poverty, had significant instability in their lives, they’ve been in care and have had multiple placements and may have had some developmental challenges like Fetal Alcohol Symptom Disorder or Autism,” added Charlesworth.
A total of 183 injuries were reported to the children’s advocate for 117 Metis children between 2015 and 2017.
Of those, 95 were in government care at the time of their injury.