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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 the crisis.

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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