Mother: my children were traumatised’
A 49-year-old mother said youngsters sent for treatment overseas returned to Bermuda “traumatised”.
She explained that two of her children spent time in US institutions when they were teenagers and her daughter claimed she was sexually abused by a counsellor at a now-closed facility in Atlanta, Georgia.
The woman said her son went to a centre in Utah and was later sent to Florida.
The children were in the care of Bermuda’s Department of Child and Family Services at the time.
Their mother said: “I don’t think they really care about these children.
“They just send them anywhere, they don’t visit these children probably once.
“The children get traumatised when they’re there. They’re away from family with no love. They’re lonely.”
Her daughter earlier told The Royal Gazette about her experiences after she was sent to an Eckerd Youth Alternatives centre in Tennessee when she was 15 as part of the DCFS psychoeducational programme.
After the institution closed, the teenager was moved to the Eckerd Academy of the Blue Ridge School, where she met the counsellor she alleged assaulted her.
The counsellor was charged in 2013 with engaging in sex with two female residents and stood trial at the Superior Court of Union County, Georgia.
A jury found him not guilty.
A Ministry of Legal Affairs spokeswoman said she could not discuss the woman’s case when the Gazette reported the girl’s story last year.
But she confirmed Eckerd was no longer used by social services in Bermuda and said all overseas treatment centres were accredited by the Joint Commission National Quality Approval Organisation and vetted by senior DCFS staff every year.
An Eckerd spokesman said that the organisation had moved away from residential care in favour of community-based services several years ago and that the Georgia centre closed in 2011.
The mother said: “She only came home once ... when everybody was going home on holidays, she had to stay there.”
She added that her son did come back to Bermuda for a visit, but did not wish to return to the treatment centre, so he “hid out” to avoid leaving again.
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