Exploring the Chemical Management of Canadian Systems Youth

Youth in government care are over-prescribed psychotropic drugs as a means of managing behaviours


This project set out to determine the prevalence and impact of psychotropic drugs as a means of managing children and youth living under government care. It began by engaging 27 systems youth between the ages of 18 and 28 in interview sessions, and assessed when and how pharmaceuticals and chemical restraints had first been applied by caregivers in foster homes or group care situations in order to control emotional or other difficult behaviours. The Youth in Care Network recognized that Canadian youth living in “the system” – meaning foster care, group homes, psychiatric and corrections institutions – are assigned a variety of disorders and medicated in order to manage their emotions and behaviours. They further identified that the situations under which children and youth are medicated frequently involve coercion and violence, and do not require the consent of the child or youth in question. The project resulted in a report that identifies current research in the field, and resulted in a subsequent major research project and report including policy recommendations.

Grant Outputs

Drugs in Our System: An Exploratory Study on the Chemical Management of Canadian Systems Youth – http://www.youthincare.ca/resources/show.cfm?id=3&t=1

This report is an account of the responses of 27 youth interviewed in this project. Interviewees perceived chemical management strategies as a means to control their behaviour, enforce compliance and restrain perceived aggression. The report concludes with a series of policy recommendations including a comprehensive review of the use of chemical restraints within the youth care system in Canada. It recommends developing and implementing a regulatory body to oversee all Canadian governmental and pseudo-governmental agencies providing care to systems youth.

Grant Details

Go Back to Grants Listing