(CMR) A teen was found unresponsive on Christmas Eve at the Francis Bodden Children's Home after an attempted suicide incident involving a bedsheet right before midday.
The revelation comes as community workers are wondering why the investigation into the home has been stalled when serious allegations of mismanagement and potential abuse of the children were revealed late last month in an expose. More residents have also come forward with stories of self-harm that are being covered up by the facility management at the risk of the residents there.
The young lady was found unresponsive by one of the two Caymanian staff members who work at the facility with blue lips. CMR understands that the child had tied a bedsheet around her neck when she was in the safe room. The safe room is a “secure” room that houses residents when serious disciplinary action is required for some 72-hours.
Three staff members administered CPR on her and immediately called 911. Police and EMT attended the scene and she was then transported to the hospital for treatment. She was said to have suicidal ligature marks on her neck. Despite serious these injuries, staff was allegedly reprimanded by the house manager, Denise Williams-Watson for contacting 911 and claims that “she was just faking it”. As the resident was being taken away by she over overheard telling police that “Denise was no good.”
CMR has been informed that when residents go missing from the facility proper protocol is that they should be taken to the hospital for a full medical examination. However, that safeguarding procedure is not followed by the management who see it as a bother.
This so-called safe room is used when the secure lockup, Phoenix House, located at Bonaventure is unavailable. However, the safe room has a bathroom, shower rod, and an outside access window. Numerous persons have questioned its suitability as a safe room.
CMR spoke exclusively to the mother of this child who expressed her frustrations with the Francis Bodden Children's Home and how her child, in particular, has been treated by some of the staff at the facility. She shared that:
“She’s sick of the verbal abuse that’s going on in there and feels like they set her up for total failure knowing she was about to do her exams. They sent her to Elk River which she states it’s more for mentally disturbed children that are suicidal. Now she just sits at Francis Bodden doing nothing cleaning the whole house with no outings or anything including no schoolwork or schooling. They are constantly blaming the child and her family for talking to Cayman Marl Road because they say your info comes from us.”
The mother has further explained that she has made several attempts to get this matter to court to get her back home. However her social worker “is never available.”
The child has expressed:
“She wants out of there she will be 17-years-old next month and says she’d rather be dead than to be in there and now they have her in a room locked up all day looking at walls”
Ironically, this is the first time the family has spoken so frankly with CMR. However, a witchhunt was undertaken after the publication of the expose where management contacted former and current residents threatening them that if revealed anything to the media or investigators they would be sent away from their families.
In fact, after the article, numerous persons contacted us stating that it was far worse than our article portrayed in particular when it came to the treatment of the underaged residents. Residents admitted to mental and emotional abuse as well as being denied medication and access to family as a means of punishment.
There is a general sense that most staff and management at the facility are out of touch with modern rehabilitative techniques to work with children in a group home and instead treat the children like they are incarcerated in an adult prison.
The youngsters have already developed a distrust of authorities and “the system” based on their experiences there. One ex-resident explained she is now trying to recover from her experiences in the home and still had nightmares about what happened to her there. Hesitant to speak with CMR she did share that at times they were ignored so poorly that they now “hate that house”.
They ever expressed being threatened by police officers that they would be arrested and charged for “defamation of character” and shared:
“it was traumatizing … I'm trying to move past the house era of my life I was chronically depressed and would attempt suicide all the time. Now, I just want a clean slate.”
Elk River Treatment Program is a residential teen treatment center focused on providing the highest quality professional care and teen rehabilitation available. We offer specialized programs for troubled teens dealing with behavioral and emotional issues, as well as drug rehab for teens struggling with substance use disorders and addiction. The facility is located in Atlanta, Georgia.