By Zoey Jones
When I told Ben I would cover the story
of what happened to Tommie, I wanted to make sure I had the
story straight. A good reporter researches all sides of the
story and isn't afraid to ask the hard questions. I thought
my results would reveal that Ben was right, that all kids
in group homes are being bullied by Group Home Supervisors.
The reality is, the more that I dug around, the more I discovered
that there are two (sometimes more) sides to every story.
The problem of kids being mistreated in
group homes exists deep within the system. These are usually
kids that have nowhere else to go. They're the ones who have
behaviour disorders, emotional problems, social problems and
sometimes even serious addictions. None of this makes for
an ideal working or living situation, and it's the job of
the group care worker to take the best care possible of these
kids under the circumstance
The results of my research have been shocking.
For one, Tommie's case is not the only case of its kind on
record. There have been many instances of kids as young as
7 years old dying while under the care of group home workers.
In every case a restraint hold was found to be the cause of
death. There are a number of restraints used and workers are
taught how to do these holds, as they are viewed as the most
effective way to deal with violent outbursts. The problem
is that the Group Home Supervisors, like Glen, are being taught
how to use the holds, but they aren't being trained on basic
life-saving techniques like CPR. When something goes wrong
like it did with Tommie, they aren't trained to deal with
When these holds are administered, there
are a number of things that can go wrong:
- Mixing drugs with a restraint hold can seriously affect
the breathing patterns of the victim or cause heart failure.
- Excessive force or certain hold positions can limit the
breath intake and cause asphyxiation (smothering).
- Vomiting is sometimes induced by the holds and if the
head is in the wrong position, the victim can choke on vomit.
I don't have a solution, but I believe
education is the best place to start. Group home workers need
to be trained better, on everything from how to deal with
special needs kids to basic lifesaving skills. Glen doesn't
want to have to live with the knowledge that he
contributed to Tommie's injury. They say it takes more than
one person to raise a child, and I believe even more people
if we raise them in violence. Group home workers don't need
lessons in riot control. They need lessons in how to nurture
an emotionally bruised child.
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