Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kids Faring Badly

More fun for the kids in Texas - yesterday it was homelessness, today it's fight clubs for the institutionalized. Not long ago it was physical and sexual abuse in Texas Youth Commission jails. It's about time some one in this state took a hard look at protections for our kids. Legislation before the legislature suddenly got pushed into passage yesterday, because of the bad publicity. Last month, staff cuts had been recommended for budget reasons, at the very reform school most implicated in abuse of residents.

Governor Perry's office had been contacted by more than one person concerned at abuse in state facilities, it turned from investigations into the TYC abuses. Since then, he has been instrumental in privatizing the care of kids.

It also can certainly be said about homelessness that the governor has given it a boost. Much homelessness is caused by growing unemployment, a cause the governor has publicly and proudly denounced in refusing federal support for unemployed workers.

Today the governor's office loudly declared its support of the legislation that was passed so suddenly after the news of 'fight clubs' broke. This should be an interesting gubernatorial campaign indeed.

Responding to reports of abusive treatment and neglect at Texas' large homes for the mentally disabled, the state Senate approved safeguards Monday designed to improve care and oversight.

Still to come are debates about whether Texas should move toward closing some of the 13 institutions, but the 30-0 vote to boost investigative powers and provide better staff training and background checks was the first major step toward improving conditions for the nearly 5,000 residents, many of whom are severely disabled.

"They need our protection," said Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, who sponsored the Senate bill. "They need our oversight. And they need our compassion."

A 2008 federal report cited negligent and abusive care that violated residents' rights. It cited 53 deaths linked to preventable conditions at the institutions known as state schools.

The report also called hundreds of reports of abuse and injuries to patients "disturbingly high" and said more than half of state facilities are in danger of losing Medicaid funding because of care and safety problems.

In the discovery of the 'fight clubs' in Corpus Christi, kids found a proponent they had been missing. The press worked for them, reporting scandalous conditions that would have been given short shrift under normal conditions. Fortune usually wouldn't be so good; like economic crisis in the U.S., adults' bad behavior has become the force needed to get protection for kids.

"These people are charged with the care and custody of these clients, and they are exploiting (them)," he said.

Those involved will likely face charges of injury of a disabled person, Wilson said. The charge's severity can range up to a third-class felony, depending on the extent of a person's involvement, he said. The actual charges, however are left up to the Nueces County District Attorney, which is participating in the investigation along with the Texas Inspector General's Office, he said.
"The fighting entails pushing, wrestling and some shoving," Wilson said. Police do not believe anyone was seriously injured, he said, but the investigation is ongoing.

"Four or five clients have been identified and at least five workers, possibly as many as 10," he said. "Some are more active in staging the fights, and some others passively stand around not doing anything."

Way to go, neanderthals. Having a bit of good old-fashioned abusive behavior on tape is a beginning for just the cure your kind need. The legislators got the shoving they needed to get some one watching over the kids. Lucky for the kids, the guards who got their kicks out of violence really helped out on this reform.

I'll turn over the recommendation for the "guardians'" treatment to you. Suggestions? and yes, that includes the governor who promoted this system.

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Anonymous darms said...

Ruth, sad story but good post. (& more proof of the absence of that sorely-needed 'teaching moment') Please fix your "These people" link - These people

11:58 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

oops, but when I tried to get the link, the latest version is this;

7:51 AM  

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