The issue of harboring missing or wanted young people in the community is on the rise.
“It’s disturbing how many of these incidents are coming up, and they’re increasing,” said Sgt. Brent Kalinowski, with the Prince Albert Police Service.
Kalinowski said many times people harboring youth lie to police or parents when asked if the youth is staying at their residence.
“I think some of these people think they’re doing somebody some good, when in fact they’re not,” he said.
“Some are just being willfully blind. That’s just how they run their household, so having one or two or three extra youth or kids in the house really doesn’t make much of a difference, so they just go on about their day like they normally do.”
Kalinowski said many times the youth aren’t supervised while “couch surfing”, which can lead to binge drinking, drug use or criminality.
Meanwhile, the parents and police are searching for the youth for days on end, when the search could have ended earlier if those harboring the youth would tell the truth.
“It’s very frustrating, more so for the parents. They’re waiting for the children to come home,” said Kalinowski.
“It’s frustrating for us as well, because we go several times to these homes to check for the kids. Sometimes they’re not there, but we don’t get told when they are there.”
Kalinowski said harboring a youth is a criminal act, and offenders could face a maximum fine of $25,000 and two years in prison.
He said if a youth is planning on staying the night or for a few days, it is important for homeowners to inquire from the youth, as well as the youth’s parents, if they are allowed to.
If the child mentions problems at home, it is still a requirement to call the proper authorities, either mobile crisis or the police service.
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