Sixteen

Authors: 

Advocate for Children and Youth

Year of Publication: 
2013
Source: 
St John's, NL: Advocate for Children and Youth, 176 pgs.
Abstract: 
"In Canada, each province and territory individually defines the age of majority, 
which is when a person is considered by law to be an adult and anyone under that age 
of majority is considered to be a minor. In Newfoundland and Labrador the age of 
majority is defined as nineteen (19) years. The United Nations Convention on the Rights 
of the Child (UNCRC) defines a child as under the age of eighteen (18) years. 
 
At the age of nineteen (19) a person can legally purchase and consume alcohol 
and tobacco yet the age of consent for medical treatment is generally recognized as 
sixteen (16) years and the right to opt out of care is recognized as sixteen (16) years. I 
will not attempt to rationalize these discrepancies in age definitions, but I will clearly say 
that we as a society are failing our most vulnerable children who require our assistance 
and guidance into adulthood. Professionals who work with vulnerable youth who are 
sixteen (16) years of age and older face the delicate balance of providing opportunities 
for youth to participate in decisions about their health, safety and wellbeing while at the 
same time determining whether or not they have the capacity to make such life altering 
decisions. 
 
This investigation reveals the story of a child who was crying out for help. Due to 
deficiencies in the system, there were times when his voice was not heard, his rights 
were not respected and his right to services was not upheld. The incident which 
prompted this investigation was a fire which resulted in the tragic death of a man and I 
extend my deepest condolences to his family and friends. 
 
 The goal of any investigation is not to lay blame but to identify what went wrong 
and how to prevent it from happening again. This investigation clearly demonstrates 
themes of deficiencies in services being provided by various government departments 
and agencies. It highlights several recommendations to improve the system and reduce 
the risk of another child experiencing the same. 
 
 For reasons of confidentiality this child will be known as “John.” I would like to 
acknowledge John and his family for their commitment to this investigation in the hope 
that it will influence necessary changes. In John’s own words, he stated to me: “…I just 
hope this doesn’t happen to somebody else really, it sucks” (Transcript of ACY 
Interview, 2012, p.117)."
 
(Advocate for Children and Youth, 2013, p. 3)
Type of Publication: 
Report
Category: 
Canadian CW research