Kids watchdog warns of ‘disturbing’ number of youth injuries and deaths

B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth Bernard Richard says while the total number of kids in care is going down, reports of injury and death are on the rise. Richard Zussman/Global News

B.C.’s children’s watchdog says the volume of critical injury and death reports crossing his desk every month is “astonishing” and “disturbing.”

Outgoing Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) Bernard Richard says his office receives at least 200 such reports a month, about 85 of which are related to care that children receive, or fail to receive.

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“These are cases that involve predominately sexual abuse, overdose or substance use injuries, suicide or suicide attempts,” he said.

In one case, Richard says one girl attempted suicide four times in a month.

There are about 7,000 kids in care in B.C., and while that number is declining, Richard said the number of such critical incidents is rising.

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What’s more, he said he believes the true numbers are higher.

Richard said many cases are not reported even though all public agencies, including youth centres, correctional centres and the health sector are obligated to do so.

READ MORE: B.C. children’s watchdog Bernard Richard resigns to head home to New Brunswick

“We know they don’t all do, because even in the reports that we receive there’s usually a bit of a chronology, some background information, so we learn that there have been incidents of critical incidents that have not been reported.”

Richard resigned from the RCY position last month after 16 months on the job, and will leave office at the end of August.

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