'They help him destroy you:' parents say youth protection system makes grievous mistakes

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By Emily Campbell and Adam Kovac, CTV News Montreal

MONTREAL -- Several parents fighting for custody of their children are criticizing Quebec's youth protection system, saying the system has wrongly placed their kids in foster care or with an abusive parent.

Parents spoke to CTV News on condition of anonymity to protect their children's identity.

One mother said her son has come home with visible injuries after seeing their father.

“When my child comes home cut, when my child comes home saying his father punches him, that his father says he's going to throw him in the garbage, you're placing my child in the hands of an abuser,” she said.

The woman said she lost custody after she reported the abuse and youth protection accused her of parental alienation.

“They took away my parental authority,” she said. “Despite the fact that you're a victim of domestic violence, instead of helping you, they help him completely destroy you.”

Quebec's youth protection system has been under fire since last year's death of a young girl whose living conditions had been the subject of numerous reports. While the shocking death led to the Quebec government forming the Laurent Commission, a final report has been delayed.

“I expect them to come up with significant changes to the youth protection law,” Lionel Carmant, the province's junior minister for health and social services, told CTV News. “I think we have to accept it being postponed by five months. Once we have the report in hand, we'll start working on changes.”

Carmant said current laws determining custody and visitation are 40 years old and will likely change.

Attorney Valerie Assouline said youth protection workers don't have the expertise needed to recognize abuse.

“They don't understand the cycle of conjugal violence,” she said. “They don't get that even if we're separated from somebody that is violent, the violence continues after the separation.”

Another mother who lost custody of her child to an abusive, alcoholic father, said she can't wait five months.

“It's like they're laughing in the face of a person who fears for their children,” she said.  

If you are the victim of domestic violence, you can reach Quebec's SOS Conjugal Violence Hotline at 1-800-363-9010.

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