Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


In one of my more heartbreaking situations, I had worked with a 14 year old young man in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania for some time. This young man had encountered domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, and witnessed the drug use of his father and a suicide attempt of his mother. His situation was very complicated, yet through this I was able to develop a strong relationship with this often very distrustful young person. Through this alliance, he was able to share with me much of the darkness of his world, many things he found difficult to share with his family members, and until an incident last year, he had been progressing to the point where the psychologist and treatment team were recommending his discharge. However, after this incident, I noticed a gradual change and unfortunate decline, and he began association with a number of negative peers. I knew things were bound for trouble and warned him of this. I knew as well that his deep need for attention, affection, and validation were becoming confused in the midst of his awakening sexuality and in light of the past trauma and abuse he experienced. I noticed that as the new school year began, he began putting up distance with me, and it was shortly thereafter that 'all hell broke loose' with him becoming involved in the juvenile justice system. He was charged in regards to an incident where he had thoughts in regards to sexual abuse, but did not actually follow through with this action. The juvenile system as well as the Wyoming County Human Services Agency handled this young man's situation in a means that was far from compassionate, far from rehabilitative, and actually detrimental to his emotional well being. After investigation and obtaining information from colleagues, I determined that a number of youth with similar charges had received far less harsh treatment by the system. I also found that while the system wrangled over who paid for what, they allowed this child to be ripped from his family (causing trauma for his young siblings as well who remain confused as to this circumstance) and to languish with no connections to anyone and his prior therapeutic alliance completely cut off and no help provided. He was 'evaluated' but never was any information in regards to his past victimization or prior treatment considered. He has been recommended for a residential treatment facility in Erie, PA. Curious enough, this facility (which is 6 hours away) houses another youth from the same area. In light of the recent charges brought against Luzerne County Judges Conahan and Ciavarella in regards to taking kickbacks for sending youth to detention facilities, one could easily suspect a similar situation occurring here. According to F.E. Zimring (2004) of the University of Chicago, 90% of juvenile sex offenses are a one time event that do not recur. The NCSBY indicates that the vast majority of these youth can be helped in community based programs. However, this information was obviously ignored. According to a report from the Judge Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, residential facilities have often had low rates of success, are highly costly, and abuses have occurred (overuse of psychiatric drugs, injuries involving restraint, and seclusion).
See: http://www.bazelon.org/issues/children/factsheets/rtcs.htm
In addition, the residential treatment facility that was recommended was asked to provide a plan of correction in 2007 because of inappropriate incidents that occurred at the facility. This information is publicly available from the Department of Public Welfare. In addition, after dialoguing with a person previouslt affiliated with the managed care company which often provided funding fot this residential treatment facility in Erie, Pennsylvania, I was informed that there have been a number of incidents of abuses, particularly improper restraints, and children have been hurt by inappropriate staff. But this did not prevent the Wyoming County caseworker from trying to sell this facility as it were a 'godsend'.
In spite of this information as well, the system continues its agenda as it appears evident that there are vested interests.
I am sadly quite sure that this is not the first of many incidents of distressed and disadvantaged youth whose needs are not truly being met by a corrupt system claiming to help but only concerned for their own interests. It is a travesty, and it is necessary for those truly concerned for the well being of our youth to continue the struggle to insure that our children's voices are truly heard, and that we address the needs of troubled youth in a rehabilitative and compassionate manner.
I so greatly appreciate the efforts of those who have stood with me in this important struggle. We will NEVER give up, no matter what games are played, what corruption we must tackle. Our kids are too important.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr. Edmunds for a very poignant posting. What you mention is indeed a disgrace and we must take action!