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By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

VANCOUVER, B.C., July 30, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A British Columbia government research program at the Youth Forensic Psychiatric Service subjected sex offenders as young as 13 to videos of adult pornography or pictures of children in various states of nudity, accompanied by audio descriptions of violent, coercive or forced sexual activity, while sensors attached to their genitals measured their state of arousal.

The “penile plethysmograph” test is meant to measure whether corrective treatments such as psychotherapy and behavior modification are effective in helping sex offenders.

The little-known program, which has been running for 25 years under the auspices of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, made the news recently when one of the medical technicians working with the youth was charged this month with sexual assault, though it was reported that the alleged offense is not related to the government program.

Robert Holmes, president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, responded to the news, saying the testing is a violation of human rights. He suggested that it is a primitive remnant of the 1950s when the test was used on men claiming to be homosexual in order to avoid military service.

“Male children, often abuse victims themselves, are subjected to this treatment by a government responsible for their care and wellbeing,” Holmes said in a news release. “In our view, serious rights issues are involved with this. That is particularly so given that the individuals involved are vulnerable youth. The public is entitled to a full explanation and an assurance that it will stop.”

“Although they talk about it as treatment, it’s really not about treatment at all,” Holmes added. “And when you’re talking about young people and the kinds of things you’re showing them, it raises a bunch of questions about whether it’s proper to be doing that.”

Subsequently, B.C.'s Minister of Children and Family Development Mary Polak ordered a stop to the use of the tests on youth incarcerated for sex offenses.

“Like most British Columbians, I was immediately concerned to learn of the testing being conducted involving young offenders, which is hard to fathom,” Polak told the media.

“I asked staff to examine the use of this procedure and, based on the information provided, I have instructed ministry staff to permanently stop any use of this procedure on youth in provincial facilities in British Columbia.”

“The safety and well-being of youth is always the top priority of myself and this ministry, and I believe most citizens would agree that the questionable nature of this procedure outweighs any possible medical benefits. I am told that plans for the young people who receive such testing are not compromised by this decision,” Polak said.

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