Reporting a situation to the Director of Youth Protection (DYP)

The information on this page is not a substitute for the information in the Act, which has official status.

Grounds for Reporting a Situation

Although parents have the primary responsibility for protecting their child, they may experience difficulties that prevent them from fulfilling their responsibilities. In some situations, the DYP is obliged to intervene to protect a child. This is the case when a child’s security or development is in danger.

According to the YPA, a child’s security or development is considered to be in danger in the following 6 situations:

  • The child has been abandoned
  • The child is being neglected or is at risk of being neglected
  • The child is being psychologically abused
  • the child is being sexually abused or there is a risk of sexual abuse
  • The child is being physically abused or there is a risk of physical abuse
  • The child has serious behavioural disturbances

According to the YPA, a child’s security or development may be considered to be in danger in the following 3 additional situations:

  • The child has run away
  • The child no longer attends school or is frequently absent (truancy)
  • The child has been abandoned by his parents following placement under the Act respecting health services and social services

Since the child’s security or development is not automatically in danger in these 3 situations, the child is not necessarily in need of protection. This is why these situations are considered separately. However, depending on the circumstances, the DYP may also have to intervene in these situations.

Contact the DYP if you have reason to believe that a child’s security or development is or may be in danger as a result of one or more of these situations.

For more details about the steps taken by the DYP when a situation is reported, consult the page Steps Taken by the DYP When a Situation is Reported.

Situations where a child's security or development is considered to be in danger

Grounds for reporting a situation

Definition in the YPA

(The text in italics is based on the text in sections 38 and 38.1 of the YPA which define the situations in which a child’s security or development is considered to be in danger.)

Some indicators

Abandonment

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. (s. 38a)

  • The child no longer lives with his parents and does not have a fixed address
  • The child says he was kicked out of the house
  • The child’s parents are deceased and no one else has assumed parental responsibilities

Neglect

  • A situation in which the child’s parents or the person having custody of the child do not meet the child’s basic needs:
    • failing to meet the child’s basic physical needs with respect to food, clothing, hygiene or lodging, taking into account their resources;
    • 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;
    • failing to provide the child with the appropriate supervision or support, or failing to take the necessary steps to provide the child with schooling.
  • 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 terms of:
    • physical needs,
    • health,
    • schooling. (s. 38b)
The notion of “serious risk” refers to a strong probability that the child is being neglected.

Neglect in terms of physical needs

  • The child is not fed enough, is not fed at all or is malnourished
  • The child seeks out food
  • The child’s hygiene is constantly inadequate
  • The child is not dressed appropriately for the season
  • The child’s living environment is unhealthy
  • The child’s living environment is inadequate or poses a risk of injury for the child
  • The child has access to hazardous substances or objects
  • The child’s family does not have a fixed address

Neglect in terms of health

  • The child suffers from severe malnutrition that could lead to health problems
  • The child is not cared for when he is sick or injured
  • The parents or the person who has custody of the child refuse or neglect to consult a healthcare professional for the child’s needs (e.g., mental health problems, dental cavities, developmental delays or problems with vision, hearing or motor skills)
  • The child takes medication in a way that could be dangerous for him

Neglect in terms of schooling

  • There is a lack of age-appropriate stimulation for the child in terms of language, motor, social or intellectual skills
  • The choice of caregiver(s) for the child is inappropriate
  • The child does not have a stable routine
  • The child’s parents or the person who has custody of the child do not take steps to ensure the child goes to school
  • The child’s parents or the person who has custody of the child do not provide the child with support
  • The child’s parents or the person who has custody of the child do not provide appropriate supervision given the child’s needs

Psychological ill-treatment

A situation in which a child is seriously or repeatedly subjected to behaviour 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 necessary steps to put an end to the situation. Such behaviour includes in particular indifference, denigration, emotional rejection, excessive control, 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. (s. 38c)

A child may be psychologically abused by someone other than his parents. In this situation, the DYP intervenes only if parents do not take the necessary steps to put an end to the psychological abuse.
  • The child often says he is no good
  • The child says he is not allowed to have friends, he appears socially isolated
  • The child says he feels rejected by his parents
  • The child often expresses the idea of death through words or drawings
  • The child says he is exhausted and that he has to work at home
  • The child is afraid of one of his parents or someone living with him
  • The child often witnesses verbal, physical or psychological abuse between his parents or in his family
  • The child regularly witnesses criminal activities at home
  • The parents often denigrate the child. For example, they belittle him by comparing him with other children or using negative nicknames
  • The parents constantly threaten to abandon the child or place him in someone else’s care

Sexual abuse

All cases of sexual abuse must be reported to the DYP regardless of the perpetrator of the abuse and the steps taken by the parents to put an end to it.

  • 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’s parents fail to take the necessary steps to put an end to the situation.
  • 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.(s. 38d)

 

The notion of “serious risk” refers to a strong probability that the child is being sexually abused.
  • The child says he has been subjected to sexual acts
  • The child complains of genital pain
  • The child exhibits precocious sexual behaviour
  • The child has knowledge of sexual behaviours that is not age appropriate
  • The child suffers from a sexually transmitted infection (STI) at a very young age
  • The child mentions pornographic experiences
  • The child is afraid to go home, he prefers to stay at school or daycare
  • The child says that one of his parents does not respect his privacy
  • The child refuses to undergo a medical exam
  • The child is afraid of a particular adult
  • The child displays abrupt changes in his usual behaviour. For example, there is a sudden drop in his academic performance, he loses his appetite
  • The child suffers from incontinence, stomach aches, frequent vomiting, nightmares or insomnia
  • The child has objects or money of unknown origin in his possession
  • An adult shows an unusual interest in the child

Discovering sexuality is a normal part of a child’s development. Sometimes, children engage in exploratory sexual games. This is not necessarily an indicator of sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse can be reported to the DYP even if it is not recent. The DYP will assess whether it has an impact on the child’s life at the moment and if his security or development is in danger.

Physical abuse

All cases of physical abuse must be reported to the DYP regardless of the perpetrator of the abuse and the steps taken by the parents to put an end to it.

  • A situation in which the child is the victim of bodily injury or is subjected to unreasonable methods of upbringing by his parents or another person, and the child’s parents fail to take the necessary steps to put an end to the situation.
  • 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 his parents or another person, and the child’s parents fail to take the necessary steps to put an end to the situation. (s. 38e)
The notion of “serious risk” refers to a strong probability that the child is being physically abused.
  • The child’s body has marks from being struck, injuries, unexplained bruises
  • The child has unexplained broken bones or repeated injuries
  • The child says that his parents hit him for not listening to them
  • The child says that his parents hurt another child in the family
  • The child cries inexplicably.
  • The child is afraid to go home, he prefers to stay at school or daycare
  • The child cringes when approached quickly, as if expecting to be hit
  • The child is aggressive towards adults or with other children
  • The child refuses to undergo a medical exam
  • The child displays abrupt changes in his usual behaviour (e.g., there is a sudden drop in his academic performance, he loses his appetite)
  • The parents use unreasonable methods to bring up or discipline their child. For example, they use objects such as a belt or stick or confine the child for long periods of time
  • The parents give vague or contradictory explanations for the child’s injuries or behaviour
  • The parents try to hide the child’s injuries

Serious behavioural disturbance

A situation in which a child behaves in such 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. (s. 38f)

  • The child constantly isolates himself (e.g., he is passive, does not have friends, withdraws from others)
  • The child is often aggressive and violent, he is unable to control himself
  • The child abuses drugs or alcohol or has compulsive gambling problems
  • The child engages in self-harm
  • The child exhibits suicidal behaviour
  • The child has eating behaviour problems, such as anorexia or bulimia
  • The child exhibits inappropriate or risky sexual behaviours
  • The child runs away repeatedly
  • The child repeatedly engages in bullying or intimidation
  • The child associates with people who have a bad influence on him and make his behaviour problems worse
  • The parents have personal limitations (e.g., they are too permissive, inconsistent or strict
  • The parents deny or trivialize the child’s behaviour problems
  • The parents have given up on their child’s behaviour

In situations where there are indicators of serious behavioural disturbances, the DYP intervenes only:

  • if parents do not take steps to protect their child, or
  • if the child is 14 years of age or over and objects to the proposed support services

 

Situations where a child's security or development may be considered to be in danger

Grounds for reporting a situation

Definition in the YPA

(The text in italics is identical to the text in sections 38 and 38.1 of the YPA which define the situations in which a child’s security or development is considered to be in danger.)

Special conditions

Runaway

If a child leaves his own home, a foster family, a facility maintained by an institution operating a rehabilitation centre or a hospital centre without authorization while his situation is not under the responsibility of the DYP. (s. 38.1a)

Truancy

If the child is of school age and does not attend school, or is frequently absent without reason. (s. 38.1b)

  • Under the Education Act (EA), all children in Québec are required to attend school:
    •  from age 6
    •  until the end of the school year in which they turn 16
  • Parents must take the necessary steps to make sure that their children are provided with schooling
  • Before making a report, the school principal must:
    • ensure that the child is being provided with schooling either at school or in another environment, in accordance with the EA
    • encourage the child and his parents to participate so that the child attends school

Abandonment of the child by his parents following placement under the Act respecting health services  and social services

If the child’s parents do not carry out their obligations to provide the child with care, maintenance and education or do not exercise stable supervision over him, while he has been entrusted to the care of an institution or foster family for one year. (s. 38.1c)

The DYP can intervene to protect a child only if the situation is reported to him.

When to report a situation

To report a situation to the DYP, you do not have to be absolutely sure that a child is in need of protection. You only have to have reasonable grounds to believe that a child’s security or development is or may be in danger. Your opinion can be based on what you have seen yourself or on what the child has said and confided to you. In this case, you must report the situation to the DYP immediately in accordance with the requirements of the YPA.

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Last update: February 15, 2018 9:14 AM

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