Probe launched into allegations of abuse at boys' home; two suspendedThursday, April 15, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
DARLISTON, Westmoreland — Two administrators at the Clifton Boys' Home have been suspended, pending the outcome of a probe by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) and the police into allegations of corporal punishment of wards at the facility.
“The board has suspended them until the probe into the allegations are completed,” Rev Hartley Perrin, chairman of Clifton Boys' Home told the Jamaica Observer yesterday afternoon, just ahead of the start of an extraordinary board meeting at the facility.
“We are currently here at the boys' home. We have had some allegations regarding some misconduct on the part of the administrators here, in terms of what could be described as physical abuse of wards of the state. It is alleged that they (wards) were on occasions beaten with a switch.”
He could not say the number of boys who had allegedly been beaten.
He, however, disclosed that, in the absence of the suspended house mother and a caregiver, the facility was on Tuesday night manned by personnel from the CPFSA, who were also expected to be in charge last night.
When questioned if there had been any previous allegations of corporal punishment at the facility, Perrin said not since he has been associated with the home for nearly four decades.
“The house mother has been here for nearly 40 years and the other gentleman more than 20 years. This is the first time that such allegations have been brought that we are aware of, and I have been associated with the board as many years as that,” he stated.
In a release yesterday, the CPFSA said it had launched an investigation into the allegations and the matter has been reported to the police, who were also carrying out an investigation.
“The agency takes a zero-tolerance approach to any and all forms of abuse, including corporal punishment, at residential childcare facilities,” said Rosalee Gage-Grey, chief executive officer of the CPFSA
“These institutions are safe havens for children, where they can get the necessary support to overcome the circumstances which would have brought them into state care. We are reminding all management and staff within child-care facilities of their duty of care to the children,” added Gage-Grey.
She said the CPFSA was working with the board of management of the home to ensure continuity of care.
“In addition to this, the CPFSA has dispatched a team to assist with the operations of the home in the interim. A team of clinicians from the agency's Psychology Unit has also been dispatched to provide counselling support to the wards,” added Gage-Grey.
In the meantime, state minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Robert Nesta Morgan has warned staff and management of child-care institutions that breaches of the Child Care and Protection Act could result in revocation of their licences.
“Any staff or caregiver who, in any way, harms a child while in the care of the State will feel the full force of the law. These behaviours will not be accepted in the new child protection ecosystem we are building, where children are guaranteed a positive therapeutic experience while in our care,” Morgan said.
Clifton Boys' Home was established in 1961, and is a private facility licensed for a capacity of 35 boys aged seven to 18 years.
The building was destroyed by a fire in January 2017, displacing 28 boys. The Anglican Church in Jamaica, which operates the home, had stated that it would take $60 million to rebuild the facility. The new building was opened October last year.
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