Experts voice concerns over youth protection services at commission hearings

Universite de Montreal academics Julie Bouchard and Marie-Claude Gauthier speak at the Laurent Commission.

The inquiry into Quebec's youth protection services is sitting in Montreal this week where two education experts voiced their concerns.

The Laurent Commission was established after the death of a seven-year-old girl in Granby sparked outrage across the province when it became clear the system had failed her.

Marie-Claude Gauthier and Julie Bouchard, both academics from Universite de Montreal, spoke on Tuesday about the need to reinforce the links between school, family and community so that disadvantaged children don't fall through the cracks.

They said the mission of the school system is to instruct, socialize and ensure students are qualified to move on – but the emphasis in most schools is on knowledge, acquisition and performance, rather than socialization and emotional development.

That hurts disadvantaged teenagers who may not have that support at home, they said, particularly in gentrified neighbourhoods where students with more advantages might receive additional support outside of the classroom.

The inquiry continues in Montreal Wednesday.