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BC’s child and youth advocate report on child sex testing

The BCCLA welcomes the primary recommendations resulting from the independent investigation conducted by the provincial advocate for children and youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, into the problematic sexual testing of youth in the criminal justice system. The provincial advocate’s report was released today.

Last July, the BCCLA and Justice for Girls uncovered the use of invasive sexualized testing research practices by the B.C. government’s Youth Forensic Psychiatric Service (“YFPS”). The provincial advocate’s investigation was announced after the two organizations expressed their concern on the use of a “penile plethysmograph” and narratives of forced sexual encounters on children involved in B.C.’s criminal justice system. The testing was also suspended.

Children who are ordered to participate in sex offence treatment by a court have been required to view images of nude and semi nude children and infants while being read narratives of forced and coercive sex with individuals that match the images. This testing was conducted by researchers working for the province on youth sex offender treatment. As Robert Holmes, President of the BCCLA, stated last July: “In our view, serious rights issues are involved with this. That is particularly so given that the individuals involved are vulnerable youth.”

The report issued by the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth recommended that this testing not be reinstated at this time, and that the approval process used by YFPS for research activities “be changed to meet the highest level of ethical research standards.” The report also recommended that the Ministry of Children and Family Development undertake a comprehensive review of the youth sex offender treatment program.

The BCCLA is confident that such a comprehensive review will show that the use of the penile plethysmograph should be eliminated entirely. Micheal Vonn, Policy Director: “We are very pleased that the representative has recommended that this program not be reinstated, and we support her recommendation that research activities meet the highest level of ethical standards.”

Micheal Vonn, BCCLA Policy Director, (604) 630-9753
Carmen Cheung, Counsel at the BCCLA, (604) 630-9758