The natural agency for the development and training of children and youth is the family. The UN.Convention on the Rights of the Child was a heroic effort to provide a framework for the healthy development of young people in every culture. The present initiatives of the Canadian Government are heretical and unfortunate attempts to re-impose the punitive and brutal system. They demonstrate a poverty of imagination which is frightening in the face of such a wealth of experience as that which we possess as a consequence of the past few decades since we abandoned capital punishment for children. There are huge files of evidence that repression and institutionalization are massive failures that result in further harm to young people.
We can look back over our years of experience at example after example of successful interventions that establish the truth about the need to treat young people with respect for their dignity and worth. It is time to speak out and keep speaking until the policy makers take notice. We are serving notice at the meeting tonight.
Why did we close the traditional training schools? Was it just to let the old brigade back in? We feel sad for Roy McMurtry and we’d be happy to tell him that his memory is being betrayed. Look through the litter of the past few years. Look at the pictures of brutal battalions trampling on the rights of caring people, listen to the screams of children being tasered, read the story of James Lonnee and his body being dragged out of the cell at Guelph where he was battered to death while the staff stood by, and then tell us the story of the girl called Ashley Smith. We think that swearing is the symptom of an inadequate vocabulary but we have insufficient words to express what we feel about the way the story happens over and over.
We are tabling this document at the meeting tonight [of the Youth Justice Group on Dec. 15th, 2010] because we know that many people share our view and we welcome every voice that will speak with us. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We apologize that we are unable to attend tonight but will commit ourselves to future activity.
Agnes Samler, President
Les Horne, Executive Director