The recently released and widely publicized report on involuntary hospitalizations from B.C.’s children and youth representative seems meant to alarm us. The report, Detained: Rights of Children and Youth under the Mental Health Act, is alarming, but for very different reasons than its author, Dr. Jennifer Charlesworth, intended.

Dr. Charlesworth, who has a PhD in child and youth care, wants the voices of youth to be heard, and stories from youth who have clearly suffered from involuntary hospitalizations feature prominently throughout this report.

“Although she writes that key stakeholders were contacted, she didn’t reach out to the groups focused on meeting the needs of families dealing with illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They and their children could have provided very different stories than the ones we read about in this biased report.”  — Susan Inman, Why the B.C. children and youth rep’s report is alarming, The Province (Feb. 8, 2021)

Reading closely helps us see that Charlesworth chose to focus on the voices of only 14 youth, each of whom comes from extremely difficult family situations. The report justifies this surprisingly small sampling used to find the voice of youth. We are told a research firm was selected that used an ethnographic approach to “dive deeply into the experiences of a small number of youth purposefully chosen” and that it “is not necessarily a representative sample.”  Read the rest of this op-ed at The Province…

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