The Youth Protection Act in Quebec

The National Assembly of Quebec adopted the Youth Protection Act on December 24th, 1977 and the Youth Protection Direction was created when the law became effective on January 15th, 1979. The Youth Protection Act establishes the rights of children and of parents and the basic principles directing social and legal interventions in matters of youth protection in Quebec.The law applies to situations where the security or the development of minors, less than 18 years old, is or could be in danger.Its objective is to end these situations and to prevent their repetition.

According to the Youth Protection Act . . .

Endangering the security or development of a child is defined in 6 ways:

Section 38: For the purposes of this Act, the security or development of a child is considered to be in danger if the child is abandoned, neglected, subjected to psychological ill treatment or sexual or physical abuse, or if the child has serious behavioral disturbances.

What is understood by abandonment, neglect, psychological ill treatment, sexual abuse, physical abuse and serious behavioral disturbance?

(a) “abandonment” refers to a situation in which a child’s parents are deceased or fail to provide for the child’s care, maintenance or education and those responsibilities are not assumed by another person in accordance with the child’s needs;

(b) “neglect” refers to

(1)a situation in which the child’s parents or the person having custody of the child do not meet the child’s basic needs,

(i)failing to meet the child’s basic physical needs with respect to food, clothing, hygiene or lodging, taking into account their resources;

(ii)failing to give the child the care required for the child’s physical or mental health, or not allowing the child to receive such care; or

(iii)failing to provide the child with the appropriate supervision or support, or failing to take the necessary steps to provide the child with schooling; or

(2)a situation in which there is a serious risk that a child’s parents or the person having custody of the child are not providing for the child’s basic needs in the manner referredto in subparagraph 1;

(c) “psychological ill-treatment” refers to a situation in which a child is seriously or repeatedly subjected to behavior on the part of the child’s parents or another person that could cause harm to the child, and the child’s parents fail to take the necessarysteps to put an end to the situation. Such behavior includes in particular indifference, denigration, emotional rejection, isolation, threats, exploitation, particularly if the child is forced to do work disproportionate to the child’s capacity and exposure to conjugal or domestic violence;

(d) “sexual abuse” refers to

(1)a situation in which the child is subjected to gestures of a sexual nature by the child’s parents or another person, with or without physical contact, and the child’sparents fail to take the necessary steps to put an end to the situation; or

(2)a situation in which the child runs a serious risk of being subjected to gestures of a sexual nature by the child’s parents or another person, with or without physical contact, and the child’s parents fail to take the necessary steps to put an end to the situation;

(e) “physical abuse” refers to

(1)a situation in which the child is the victim of bodily injury or is subjected to unreasonable methods of upbringing by her/his parents or another person, and the child’s parents fail to take the necessary steps to put an end to the situation; or

(2)a situation in which the child runs a serious risk of becoming the victim of bodily injury or being subjected to unreasonable methods of upbringing by her/his parents or another person, and the child’s parents fail to take the necessary steps to put an end to the situation;

(f) “serious behavioral disturbance” refers to a situation in which a child behaves insuch a way as to repeatedly or seriously undermine the child’s or others’ physical or psychological integrity, and the child’s parents fail to take the necessary steps to put an end to the situation or, if the child is 14 or over, the child objects to such steps.

In what other situations can the security and development of a child be considered as being in danger?

Section 38.1: The security or development of a child may be considered to be in danger where

(a) she/he leaves her/his own home, a foster family, a facility maintained by aninstitution operating a rehabilitation centre or a hospital centre without authorization while her/his situation is not under the responsibility of the director of youth protection;

(b) she/he is of school age and does not attend school, or is frequently absent withoutreason;

(c) her/his parents do not carry out their obligations to provide her/him with care,maintenance and education or do not exercise stable supervision over her/him, whileshe/he has been entrusted to the care of an institution or foster family for one year.

What responsibilities do professionals have when there is reason to believe that thesecurity or the development of a child is or could be in danger?

Section 39: Every professional who, by the very nature of his/her profession, providescare or any other form of assistance to children and who, in the practice of his/herprofession, has reasonable grounds to believe that the security or development of achild is or may be considered to be in danger within the meaning of section 38 or 38.1, must bring the situation to the attention of the director without delay. The sameobligation is true for any employee of an institution, any teacher, any person workingin a childcare establishment or any police officer who, in the performance ofhis/her duties, has reasonable grounds to believe that the security or development of achild is or may be considered to be in danger within the meaning of the said provisions.

Obligatory reporting: Any person, other than a person referred to in the firstparagraph, who has reasonable grounds to believe that the security or development of a child is considered to be in danger within the meaning of subparagraphs d and e of thesecond paragraph of section 38 must bring the situation to the attention of the director without delay.

Discretionary reporting: Any person, other than a person referred to in the first paragraph, who has reasonable grounds to believe that the security or development of a child is or may be considered to be in danger within the meaning of subparagraph a, b, c or f of the second paragraph of section 38 or within the meaning of section 38.1 may bring the situation to the attention of the director.

Professional Secrecy: The first and second paragraphs apply even to those persons who are bound by professional secrecy, except to a lawyer who, in the practice of his/her profession, receives information concerning a situation described in section 38 or 38.1.

To consult the Youth Protection Act:

http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=2&file=/P_34_1/P34_1.HTM

*In 2006, various aspects of the Youth Protection Act were revised.To consult the law modifying the Youth Protection Act and other legislative provisions, go to:

http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=5&file=2006C34F.PDF