Officials from the Children Authority’s Emergency Response Team yesterday rescued a 14 year old special needs boy who according to reports, endured months of physical and verbal abuse at the hands of relatives at their Tabaquite home.
A female relative admitted to Newsday that in a fit of rage, four days ago, she used a knife to discipline the boy, slashing him across his right forearm near the wrist. She could not recall what led her to punish the child in this violent manner. He was also removed from the house and placed in a room on the ground floor which he shared with ducks and slept among mounds of rubbish.
News of the abuse came to light in a series of videos and photos of the boy posted on social media. The people who posted the information, all live near the victim and pleaded for some form of intervention. Interviewed yesterday, a neighbour said the boy was abused both physically and verbally for the past six months. Before then, he lived with his father’s relatives.
SLEEP AMONG RUBBISH
Several months ago, the boy, who cannot read or write and has difficulty speaking, was made to sleep in a room in the downstairs area of the house. The female relative said the boy was moved out of a room in the top floor of the house after he was caught peeping at her and her common-law husband one night.
“It have nothing wrong with him living there, I find it ok for him to sleep there,” she said, referring to the room on the ground floor. Asked about the wound on the boy’s forearm, she replied, “I was in the kitchen and something he do, I can’t remember what, and I hit him with it (the knife).” The boy later that day, wandered to a neighbour’s home, where his hand was bandaged and he was given a hot meal.
The female relative has three other children, who do not live with her. The neighbour highlighted the child’s plight on social media on Wednesday. She said she was fed up reporting it to police and the Children’s Authority without seeing any results.
During a visit to the home yesterday, the boy’s relative showed Newsday the room where the teen sleeps. Asked about the presence of ducks in the room, she said only one duck is kept there. “Well, is plenty duck we have and this one like it wasn’t eating good, so we keeping it here now,” she said. Although the stench of animal waste filled the room, the woman seemed unfazed.
‘HE TOO HARDEN’
Her common-law husband, who was also present, said it was the child’s responsibility to clean the room and repaint it if he wanted to be more comfortable. “He is a big boy, he could help he self. When I was small I sleep just so on the ground, nobody never care,” the man said.
“No school doh want he, he can’t even read or check (count). I was trying to teach him to be a farmer but he too harden. You see how allyuh come here today, that giving he power to do what he want,” the man complained.
The neighbour, who initially drew attention to the boy’s treatment, wept as she spoke of the hardship she witnessed the child endure. “Sometimes 12 o’clock in the night, I does look outside and see him trying to pick pommecythere from my yard and I come outside and make a sandwich or something for him to eat,”she said.
“He usually bathes himself and is clean, but recently we realised when he came around, he was smelling like faeces and when my mother went, he told her he was sleeping downstairs on a piece of cloth.” When her mother raised the topic, the woman said, the boy’s stepfather became verbally abusive.
CUSS FOR HELPING
“He cuss us for a few days straight but we didn’t give up and my mother get a bed and a mattress for him and they let us put it in the room,” the neighbour said. She said the child is beaten several times a week, although neighbours have spoken out on his behalf on several occasions. “I went across a day she was beating him and tell her if she don’t stop, I will make the police lock her up, and she had eased up a little with the licks.” She said in the months she has known him, the child has displayed no real emotion. “He will be smiling all the time and when she beating him, he does be bawling, but that is it. I never see him crying or showing any other emotion.”
The child is made to sell produce at a roadside stand and because he cannot count, he is often punished for not taking home enough money. “Everyone in this village hears when she is beating him. If they know he cannot count, why are they making him go to sell?”
The Children’s Authority, in a media release, said its Emergency Response Team was dispatched to find the child and he is now in its care.
It warned the public to refrain from sharing posts that reveal children’s faces and identity via the internet, sayin this can cause further trauma. The authority says all videos regarding child-protection concerns should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or a report can be made to its hotlines at 996 or 800-2014.