‘To me, it’s gone too far’
After three attacks in Whitbourne, youth corrections centre employee speaks out
Three recent attacks on staff at the youth correctional centre in Whitbourne have employees on edge, a worker at the facility told TC Media last week.
The attacks - all by the same girl - were directed at three female employees, the staff member said.
The employee spoke on the condition of anonymity, but confirmed his identity for TC Media. He said the public should know what’s going on there.
“To me, it’s just gone too far. I mean ... it’s safety and security for all concerned - staff and our residents,” he said.
“John Q. Public doesn’t know what we’re dealing with. They know that we deal with youth, but we work in an environment that is just as volatile as Her Majesty’s (Penitentiary).”
He said the first woman who was attacked, about two months ago, was beaten with a chair in the dining hall, and is still on workers’ compensation.
The second woman, who was attacked about two weeks ago, returned to work, he said, but took a couple of days off when she learned she’d be working with the girl who attacked her.
The latest attack resulted in a third female employee being taken away by ambulance Monday night, said.
“From what I was told, the resident took the staff by the hair and flung her across the room and started to pummel her, hence the ambulance taking her out.”
Carol Furlong of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) said that employee was taken to hospital, but released. She is injured and has been off work since the assault.
“In the environment that they’re in, there are occasions when physical assaults take place, so our goal is to minimize the risk to the staff and to other youth who are out there as well,” said Furlong. “At times, it’s not all that simple a task, but we do our best to try and ensure that whatever safety measures are put in place are addressed and that the employer works with us to ensure that safety is of utmost importance.” Union, employer have met Furlong said the morning after this week’s assault, union representatives and the employer got together to address the situation.
“I spoke to the staff representatives there, and they do feel that the employer has worked with them in this matter to try and come up with as viable a plan as
“In the environment that they’re in, there are occasions when physical assaults take place, so our goal is to minimize the risk to the staff and to other youth who are out
there as well.”
possible,” she said.
But the employee said some staff are frustrated by how long it is taking to address the ongoing issue, and some are saying they no longer want to work with the resident in question.
“They’re trying to balance safety and security with rehabilitative programming. But personally, I think there comes a point where, OK, programming has to take a step backward, and you got to focus on safety and security of that individual resident and the staff who are working directly with her,” he said.
He added he is not looking for punitive measures against the resident, but suggests that for safety’s sake, she should be restricted from going to the dining hall, for example.
Furlong said a safe work plan has been put in place for the resident who attacked the employees.
“It’s very specific to this individual. It deals with issues such as how many staff will be working with this individual at any given time, where that individual will be located, and whether that individual will ... be in association with other individuals who are at the site. And it deals with some counselling sessions and training sessions for this individual, and regular day-to-day activities, how they will go about those.”
The employee said he believes things are headed in the right direction, but he is concerned the decision-makers involved are too far removed from the situation, and don’t see as much as the workers who do direct supervision.
The Department of Justice and Public Safety said police are investigating the matter, but had no further comment.