Thursday, September 26, 2013

Government: No changes to help the kids of violent fathers (British Columbia, Canada)

Same old foot dragging. Even in the more "liberal" nations, children count for virtually nothing and violent daddies have all the rights. We're reported on PETER LEE and ALLAN SCHOENBORN before.

Six years on, B.C. children still vulnerable, watchdog says

September 26, 2013 8:00 AM

VICTORIA - The B.C. government has yet to roll out a comprehensive strategy for protecting children from domestic violence more than six years after Christian Lee was murdered by his father in Oak Bay.

Children’s Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond criticized the lack of progress this week, noting that government continues to miss deadlines.

“I was hoping to be able to come to this very first meeting after the last general election to say there was a plan, and that’s unfortunate that we do not have a plan,” she told the standing committee on children and youth.

“It certainly causes me some degree of despair that we haven’t made a lot of progress on one of the most important areas, which is domestic violence.”

Turpel-Lafond has been calling for a strategy since her 2009 report on Christian’s murder.

The six-year-old boy was stabbed to death by his father, Peter Lee, who also killed his wife, Sunny Park, and her parents before taking his own life in September 2007.

Turpel-Lafond again called for improvements in March 2012 in a similar report on the deaths of 10-year-old Kaitlynne Schoenborn and her brothers Max, 8, and Cordon, 5. The three children died at the hands of their mentally ill father, Allan Schoenborn, in Merritt in April 2008.

Turpel-Lafond concluded that the deaths of Christian and the Schoenborn children could have been prevented if police, justice, child welfare and other government agencies had worked together effectively.

Premier Christy Clark responded by standing in the legislature and apologizing to the Schoenborn children’s mother and family, and promising to do better.

Her government immediately announced a child domestic violence unit within the children’s ministry to drive change.

But Turpel-Lafond said this week that government has yet to follow through on a key recommendation to unveil a comprehensive domestic violence strategy by September 2012 and put it in action by April 2013.

“We are now in September 2013, and we do not have that plan,” Turpel-Lafond said this week.

“The day that report was released, the premier, Christy Clark, the minister, then Mary McNeil, and everyone was really pretty much united in the legislative assembly that this has to be done, and they committed to doing it on a timeline. But here we are in September 2013, and it’s not done.

“It continues to concern me, because we have domestic violence homicides of children,” Turpel-Lafond added. “Domestic violence is common in the lives of some of the most vulnerable children.”

Stephanie Cadieux, who replaced McNeil as children’s minister, was unavailable for an interview on Wednesday.

Instead, her office issued a statement in which Cadieux said the provincial domestic violence office had intended to roll out its three-year plan in June.

“However, considerable changes in government post-election resulted in extra time being taken to ensure new ministers, deputy ministers and staff were briefed,” the statement said.

“Further engagement with stakeholders is also necessary before the plan can be made available to the public.”

The ministry now expects to release the plan this fall.

“This plan is of the utmost importance to British Columbians and we want to ensure all affected ministries and service providers are on the same page before proceeding,” Cadieux said.

The ministry noted that 6,000 school employees, victim services workers, transition house staff and others have received training in how to recognize and respond to domestic violence.

The government has also launched pilot programs in Richmond and Vernon to evaluate protocols that address the safety of children and families dealing with untreated serious mental illness, problematic substance misuse and/or domestic violence.