B.C. ends weird sex test for juvenile offenders

Controversial sex arousal tests used on young offenders have been permanently halted, following news that a medical technician working in the program has been charged with an unrelated sexual offence.

Mary Polak, the B.C. minister of children and family development, said her ministry learned Thursday that the technician, who was working on contract, was charged earlier this month. The charge is unrelated to his work for the ministry or the youth facility where he was employed, she said…

Polak temporarily suspended the tests after the province’s child advocate announced…she’d review the testing program.

The tests, carried out by the government-sponsored Youth Forensic Psychiatric Service, involve attaching a “penile plesthysmograph” to adolescent boys’ genitals to measure sexual responses. The youths — aged 12 to 17 — were shown photographs of naked or semi-naked adults, children and infants. The images were accompanied by a story, read out loud, that described coercive or forced intercourse. The test is supposed to determine whether young offenders have gained control of their sexual impulses through treatment, and to predict the likelihood of them reoffending.

Polak said the B.C. Civil Liberties Association notified her of the tests only several days ago, although they have been administered for 20 years…

20 years!?

After instructing staff to look into the testing protocol, she said: “The information provided to me has led me to believe there’s no reason for us to continue such an intrusive practice that is so concerning, when we have other treatments and assessment practices to treat youth individuals in our care…”

Similarly, while the BCCLA believes Polak’s decision to end the sex tests is “good news,” it also plans to investigate the ethical protocols that authorized this research in the first place.

We have the occasional loony city council in our neck of the prairie that would authorize something like this. The only difference being that our loonies would also photograph the juvenile offenders’ aura.