Study Offers Insight On Youth In Custody

On an average day, about 300 young people are residents in BC’s nine youth custody centres. These youth have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to a period of time in a custody centre to compensate for their actions and to receive services that may contribute to their rehabilitation. A new McCreary report, Time Out: A Profile of BC Youth in Custody, provides a closer look at the physical and emotional health of these young people, as well as offering information about the youths’ perceptions of life in the custody centre.

The 243 youth who participated in the study answered a wide-ranging se­ries of questions about their health, their lives inside and outside the custody centre, their problems and concerns, and their expectations for the future. Results of the research show that this group of young people is at very high risk for health and emotional problems. Many of the young people in custody centres have experienced violence or abuse, and most are lonely and disconnected from their families. Many are dealing with the consequences of early exposure to drugs and alcohol, and many have considered suicide. Most have had more than one encounter with the justice system prior to their confinement in the custody centre.

Highlights of the study include the findings that youth in BC custody centres are much more likely than others in the same age group to:

Young people in custody centres share many characteristics with street youth. In fact, the study showed that many youth in custody centres have lived on the street at some time.

The report does express some optimism that youth who spend time in custody centres will move on to happier and more productive lives. Despite their difficult circumstances, most of the youth who contributed to the study say that they foresee a personal future that includes education, jobs, family and a home of their own.

The study was done at the request of the Ministry of Children & Family Development (formely the Ministry for Children and Families), which has responsibility for youth custody centres in the province.

McCreary Centre Society 401 North Esmond Avenue Burnaby, BC V5C 1S4 Tel: (604) 291-1996 Fax: (604) 291-7308 e-mail: