LAVAL – Quebec’s ministers for Youth Protection and Public Security are teaming up to tackle the mysterious disappearance of several teens from a Laval group home.
In the last seven days, five girls have gone missing.
Four have since been found, but one remains unaccounted for.
“We want to make sure that everything was done correctly,” said Minister for Youth Protection Lucie Charlebois.
“I’m extremely preoccupied as a parent, as all Quebec parents are, and we have to make sure everything is in place to guarantee the safety of these children.”
Despite calls for a public inquiry, the Quebec government is taking a different approach by committing to appointing an independent auditor to review the sequence of events that led to the string of recent runaways.
The auditor will then table a report, which will hopefully lead to solutions.
“We want to make sure all the girls that go to DPJ are sufficiently protected,”Minister of Public Security Martin Coiteux insisted.
Laval police are still investigating the latest case and while police are convinced the fifth runaway will be found soon, they can’t guarantee it won’t happen again.
“It’s important to note that the majority of the girls you’ve seen in the news lately, it’s repetition – it’s not their first time,” said Cst. Franco Di Genova of the Laval police.
“It’s more than five – more than 10 times that some have run away.”
According to police, most of the recent runaway cases involve teens who have done so before, which is why officers are suggesting stiffer consequences and stricter rules for teens living in group homes.
But the answer isn’t that simple, according to the Premier.
“Police forces want us to lock the doors. Well the human rights commission, not so long ago, said, ‘please don’t lock the doors because these kids have also rights and freedoms,'” said Philippe Couillard.
Many runaways end up being targets for sexual exploitation and prostitution.
In the last,Laval police have gone as far as Calgary to bring some girls home.
Prevention and communication are key in solving the problem, according to the Missing Children’s Network.
“If we don’t fix the problem, these kids run and every time they run further from home, they run for longer periods and every time that means they expose themselves to greater dangers,” said Pina Arcamone of the Missing Children’s Network.