‘To me, it’s gone too far’

After three at­tacks in Whit­bourne, youth cor­rec­tions cen­tre em­ployee speaks out

The Compass - - PUZZLERS - BY LOUIS POWER — The Tele­gram

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.”

the worker

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.”

Carol Fur­long

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.

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