Boy came back ‘ill-equipped for adult life’

A teenage boy sent to two overseas schools by the Department of Child and Family Services came back with no educational qualifications and ill-equipped for adult life, a good Samaritan who looked after his welfare said.

The woman added she had known Jonathan* since he was 10 and that he had “layers of trauma” as a result of a dysfunctional home life.

The Department of Child and Family Services decided to send him to a school in the United States for children with behavioural problems when he was 16.

The woman said that after he was taken to the school, DCFS staff left and did not return to the school to check on him the next day, although their flight schedule would have allowed it.

She added that over the 16 months or so he was there, he was visited by social workers and also had monthly conference calls with staff from the DCFS, school staff, including a therapist, and his mother.

But she said the boy never met Alfred Maybury, the DCFS director, who claimed he had a “face-to-face visit” every year with all children in the psychoeducational overseas programme.

The woman added that the school was a “safe space” for the boy but he told her he felt isolated after being sent so far away from home.

She said: “He kept telling them he wanted to see his mother. In the end, they said it was like dealing with a child trapped in a man’s body.”

Jonathan finished at the school the next summer, aged 17, without any skills or qualifications, such as a GED.

He was escorted by a social worker from the DCFS to a reform school, which has since been shut down for mistreatment and abuse of children.

Jonathan was there for less than two months and returned to Bermuda just before he turned 18 and aged out of the care system.

The woman said: “They took this child out of a very nurturing place, the first institution, and placed him with children in the judicial system in a reform school. He had never been in the judicial system.

“They had nowhere to put him between June and September that year and he was due to age out of the system shortly before the end of the year.

“So they sent him to the reform school, under the pretence that he would be learning a trade. He called me several times during the period at the reform school, very distraught.”

She added that Jonathan learnt nothing at the reform school. The woman said he told her he was “held down and beaten” at the school by another boy and that “it was nothing but criminals there”.

She added that Jonathan, now 24, had struggled to adapt to adult life in Bermuda.

She explained: “He is having a hard, hard time because we don’t have a place for transitional living.

“The taxpayer spends about $115,000 and perhaps more per child every year on these children and then DCFS literally dumps them when they return to Bermuda and have reached the age of 18, whether or not they have progressed.”

She said there should be a centre on the island staffed with counsellors and case workers to help young people who returned from overseas institutions to look for a job and apply for financial assistance until they found jobs.

And she questioned why the DCFS did not follow up with its former clients and record how many ended up in jail after their return.

The woman claimed: “The majority of the workers have become so desensitised to the children’s feelings and specific needs. Maybe there should be a time limit imposed on how long they can remain in this profession.”

* Jonathan is an alias

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Published Dec 11, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 11, 2019 at 7:06 am)

Boy came back ‘ill-equipped for adult life’

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