Quebec to audit Laval group home in bid to stop runaways
Published Tuesday, February 9, 2016 11:50AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 9, 2016 7:01PM EST
The provincial government is going to take a closer look at a Laval group home that's been the site of a string of runaways.
Five teenaged girls staying at the group home have run away in the past ten days, convincing the Quebec government to audit the facility.
Quebec's Minister responsible for youth protection, Lucie Charlebois, said the rash of disappearances is unsettling.
"We are going to do everything possible to protect our young girls," said Charlebois, pointing out that she has already been working on the issue.
"I spent the weekend meeting with people to discuss this issue and possible solutions... I think that was the appropriate use of my time," she said.
Charlebois pointed out that eight years ago the operators of youth homes were more strict, but since then there has been a communication revolution with the rise of social media.
She said the government will have to re-evaluate the internet access granted to residents of youth homes, even when they are not on the grounds.
"Using a cell phone is not allowed in youth homes, but when the girls go outside, they are get their phones back.," said Charlebois.
Martin Coiteux, the Minister for Public Safety, said that there has always been children that run away from group homes.
"This is not a new phenomenon. It's been going on for years" he said, although having five run away from one location in just more than a week is unusual.
He has already met with Laval police, and said the government will sit down with representatives from group homes, youth workers, and other involved parties.
"We will put in place mechanisms to co-ordinate everything between us... to have a global plan," said Coiteux. "It's not just prevention, it's not just finding a solution, it's working together."
"We just want to make sure that our current approach is correctly applied in our youth centres and we start with Laval because we’ve had so many cases in Laval recently but we want to question with an open mind, our current approach," said Coiteux.
Four of the five teenaged girls that ran away from the Laval group home have been located, with one of them having fled to another province.
Police suspect some of the missing girls were targeted by gangs that want to sexually exploit them, and force them into prostitution.