Sixteen

Report
Canadian CW research
Authors

Advocate for Children and Youth

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)