Confinement case raises concerns about youth on the streets
According to court documents, a 16-year-old boy who was allegedly held hostage at a remote cabin in Upper Chelsea had been living on the streets of Halifax.
Joseph Arsenault has also been living on the streets of Halifax for a few years. He says he can’t believe the details emerging in the case.
“I can’t believe they’d actually take a 16-year-old kid and do what they did to him,” says Arsenault.
The documents say the boy told police he was sleeping on the street when he woke up in a van with a man. He says the man took him to a home in Lunenburg County and held him against his will for several days.
Arsenault says the case has changed his whole routine.
“Oh, it changes the way I go to my campsite and everything else now,” he says. “I take a different route to my campsite every night of the week now.”
Val Johnson, a professor at the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Saint Mary’s University, says she isn’t surprised.
Johnson is involved with Out of the Cold – an emergency winter shelter in Halifax that opens in November.
She says young people regularly use the shelter and this case raises one main issue.
“The social perception often of young people who are street engaged or living on the streets is that they’re the ones that are the threat, when in reality, young people who are street engaged and living on the streets are much more vulnerable to violence than people who are safely housed.”
As investigators continue for search for the two men accused of forcible confinement and sexual assault in the case, many question remain unanswered about the young victim.
“I don’t understand why he was out on the streets to start with,” says Lunenburg County resident Irene Holdright. “It’s terrible.”
The RCMP have released few details about the teen, saying only that he is safe.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster