Youth Mental Health & Justice

In 2009, I was able to participate in a conference that focused on Youth Mental Health and the Youth Criminal Justice Act. I met some great youth that were there. We shared a lot of the same feelings: we felt that we were just there as “tokens.” Truth be told. I didn’t really meet a lot of people who were part of the other delegates (ie-frontline workers, nurses, police chiefs, RCMP officers). Well, that is wrong. I did meet them, tried to stay in touch with them… but nothing ever lasted.

That is the problem. People always say we need to do something for the youth, and we need to help youth….but how much do those people really want to hear from the youth? It is possible that some people may get into work like policing, nursing, social services to actually help society, and because of situations they have witnessed or experienced. Unfortunately, I feel that once those people get into the positions where they can actually make a difference, they forget how they got there or forget where they came from. Everyone has a story, yet some people forget about it once they get to the top.

From the conference, I did meet some great youth. These youth came from various backgrounds. Nevertheless, they were still youth and we still had all of our experiences whether indirectly or directly with mental health issues and the justice system.

I remember, as a group, the youth were allowed to speak at the very end of the conference. It was nice enough of them to allow us to speak. However, I was very disappointed in the other delegates who came to this conference, and who were probably paid to be there. I was disappointed because by the end of it, I kept hearing them say, “Oh well I have to leave and get back to my work…” or “I can’t wait to get home and sleep in my own bed…” and other phrases similar in content. The other delegates just HAD to get home and back to their hometown as quick as possible. Barely any of them stayed to hear what the youth had to say at the end of the conference. So I told the delegates who did chose to stay behind the following,

You say you guys want to help the youth but all I keep hearing is how quickly the rest of you have to get home. We, the youth, choose to be here. We are not paid to be here. We are here because we want to see change. When I look out there, all I see are empty tables. I see no change out there. There is no change sitting at those empty tables.

Whether they wanted to agree with me or not, I believed I was right. That is the issue with youth, nobody listens to what we are saying. Everyone says, “Let’s get the youth more involved…” or “Let’s fix what’s going on with the youth…”… but I bet if those people asking those questions, stopped asking questions, and listened for a second… They would probably find more answers then they ever needed.

Instead of talking about us, talk to us.

To see some of the reports, that I just found (nearly two years later) from the conference, see the links below:

Dress Code for Sexual Assault

After reading Toronto police officer’s sex-assault remarks prompt reprimand, I am reminded of a story.

A friend of mine, who is a strong, bright, confident female, was once in the middle of a sexual assault investigation. She shared with me, at the time it happened, what one officer said to her. After being questioned for quite some time by two other officers, one of the officer remarks, in response to the question/answers was this, “Well look at what you are wearing.” She was done her shift at the local mall. She worked in a store that is known to cater towards “older women.” She was wearing a cardigan, a knee length skirt, and knee high boots. I hardly call that “asking for it. Even if she was “asking for it” because of the way she dress, that is the hardly the response/reply to be expected from a police officer.

It just turns my stomach upside down whenever I hear of stories like this and I am reminded how my friend was treated.

Crime Stoppers

I thinks it’s interesting when police give descriptions of suspects. I see this trend a lot: If suspect is white, no race is given. However, if suspect is non-white: race given. Is the public supposed to assume a suspect is white if no race is given? The problem: that would leave room for assuming a whole slew of potential suspects! I only write this after watching a crime stoppers commercial and a video screen shot of the suspect was shown. The suspect looked white. To me anyways. He did have on ski goggles, hood, hat and could barely see him but based on his build and skin colour I assumed he was white. He might have been asian, maybe native. Who knows. I wonder if the suspect was a particular colour, if the description would include the race. I know using race as a description would help locate the suspect. However, there is a lot of stigma attached to using race as a description, which indefinitely contributes to racism and stereotyping.

State of Emergency

Here is a news article for you.

A community declares a state of emergency because of the amount of crime that has occurred and families fear their safety.

Obviously there is an issue with protection. Who provides? Where do you seek it? When is it available to them?

I don’t know or understand all the issues for this particular community. Committing an act violence is a difficult issue to understand. There are many circumstances surrounding an act of violence. Nobody wakes up on this planet earth and just declares one morning to “be violent.” There may be health issues, family issues, community issues, safety issues surrounding violence.

To say that this community may lack a police force (if it does) would be wrong. It is wrong because policing does not address the long term issues of violence. Besides, I believe that Aboriginals do not respond well to authority (based on my own experiences in my own life or from seeing experiences of others around me).

I do believe that this community needs help to act NOW! Perhaps, some sort of protective forces could be sent in. Say, Canadian Soldiers. How about instead of sending Canadian Soldiers to fight for democracy in the Middle East, the Canadian Government should send in soldiers to help protect its own citizens from other citizens on homeland!

I hope that this community seeks the help it can, and help address not just the short term issues of violence but also the long term issues!