19-year-old boy dies of hardship in Ghent

The death of 19-year-old Jordy in Ghent has sent a shock wave through society, and has triggered a debate on vulnerable youths and to which extent they should be guided and counselled in life.
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19-year-old Jordy died of hardship in the recreation area the Blaarmeersen near Ghent. His body was discovered in a little tent hidden in the bushes. His death was a natural one, investigators said.

Jordy had a small mental disorder - a low IQ and a light form of autism - and may have been depressive. He lived in a youth care centre until he turned 18. He was offered to stay in the centre when he turned 18, but he refused and wanted to start a new life. However, the boy hardly had a network of family and friends and was left to his own devices. He died of hardship, combined with last week's sweltering heat.

Jan Bots of a youth counselling centre in Deurne says that social workers should better plan ahead for those turning 18 and leaving behind their minor status. "It's ridiculous that vulnerable youths have the possibility to continue on their own once they turn 18. Youngsters with no problems often stay with their parents until they are 25, while they would have the right network to depend upon anyway."

Youngsters in problems have the right to stay in a care centre, but we should respect the fact they become adults at 18, with the right to make their own choices, Peter Jan Bogaert of the Agency for Youth Welfare told Studio Brussels. "I can understand that youngsters want to try and stand on their legs after all these years in a centre."