Are abused girls really safer "in the system"?
By Cathy Steinberg on January 26, 2013
Kids in Distress is a wonderful organization on South Florida. They offer services and housing to abused kids in need. It was (until Jan. 7th) supposed to be a safe sanctuary for young victims of abuse who have no where else to turn.
At 3:30am on Jan. 7th, a young group of teen girls were hanging out outside the shelter in the front courtyard area. How is that possible you might ask? Well apparently the midnight staff may have been taking a little snooze and didn’t realize a group of young girls in their care had wandered outside.
The shelter is located in a town in South Florida named Wilton Manors (a place where I wouldn’t be caught dead outside at night).
What happens next is appalling.
Surveillance video show a man walking past the front entrance of the facility notice the girls, stop, and engage them in conversation. Once he gains their trust (and silence), he jumps the fence and proceeds to rape two of the girls while at least 4 other children look on in horror.
Imagine what was going through the minds of these girls as they are being attacked. They are at the shelter in the first place because they are already someone’s victim. Then to be subjected to this event while they are supposed to be in a safe place can only solidifying in their mind they are not safe anywhere. No one can help them.
To make matters worst, they all kept quiet about the incident for several days. Several days without help, therapy, counselling or someone to be their hero…nothing.
“During a brief news conference Wednesday, Kids in Distress administrators appeared emotional and acknowledged the incident was a blow to the organization that for years has been highly regarded as a champion for children in South Florida.
The nonprofit serves approximately 10,000 children per year and houses an average of about 18 children each day. The children — many of whom have been abused, neglected or left homeless — stay in the emergency shelter anywhere from 24 hours to three months, Dhooge said.
Dhooge said the shelter does not function as a locked down facility, meaning the children are allowed to come and go as long as there is a supervisor with them. The two fired employees, who were not identified, worked the overnight shift.”
Thankfully the workers on the night shift were fired! I wish there were some sort of criminal repercussion for them too.
The girls have been relocated to an alternative crisis care center and are receiving therapy.
Kids in Distressed is genuinely a great and much-needed organization. They help thousands of kids who would otherwise have nowhere to go for safety. It is a shame these monsters walk among us.
We need to make personal safety a priority. We need to step out of the shadows of denial and take the steps necessary to protect ourselves and our children. It is easy to say it won’t happen to you or to your loved ones but that is denial clouding your view of reality. Statistically, we are all in the realm of being a victim.
There is nothing more gut-wrenching than watching your kid be the victim of a bully, or criminal and watching that once sweet outgoing child become withdrawn, reclusive, and scared. Or dealing with your own aftermath of recovering from being a victim. Know what to do when it matters most.
Be Safe. Let’s support each other and especially our young girls.
Know what to do when it matters most!
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