An investigation conducted over the past year by The New York Times highlights disturbing trends of abuse in group homes run for the mentally challenged and developmentally disabled. The emphasis of the survey, the lack of discipline imposed upon delinquent employees of such homes, underscores the importance of diligent oversight by not only authorities, but also families of the residents of these homes.
While this blog often focuses on neglect, the Times survey examines the aftermath of proactive abuse on residents of group homes. The report documents the cyclical nature of the abuse, with employees being transferred to other homes after violent, often criminal, incidents rather than facing actual sanction, dismissal, or criminal charges. This can be credited to lack of resources, diminished capacity and inability of residents to explain the circumstances of abuse or simply apathy from administration. Regardless of cause, however, the graphic depictions of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse cited in the Times investigation are less disturbing than the lack of repurcussions for those accused of these actions.
The report goes into case-specific information of several cases of abuse, transfer, further abuse, transfer, etc. The idea that employees at these homes are under-trained, under-paid under-motivated, and over-stressed does not excuse overt abuse. Inattention to this abuse makes administrators and supervisors complicit. While the report does not offer a comprehensive solution to the ongoing issue of group home abuse, making it known to the public is a good first step. Administrations of homes, law enforcement, and the judiciary must be more conscientious in enforcing the legislation put in place to protect group home residents, as they would protect any other vulnerable member of our society.
Website Resource: At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity
New York Times, Danny Hakim, March 12, 2011