Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I am a voracious reader. I am the parent of a severely disabled child. I would never, ever allow him to be cared for in a state-operated facility. While I am aware that neglect and a lack of care is evident in a multitude of settings which provide care for the disabled, none rival the recent report in the NY Times concerning the abject physical and sexual abuse of the fragile. You cannot read this report based upon a year long study without feeling nauseous and vomiting. Shame on the state of New York!
Forty years after New York shuttered it's warehouses for the developmentally disabled, small group residences emerged to serve people with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Autism. New York created these homes with scant oversight and virtually no accountability for employees who perpetrated indescribable crimes.
The New York Times investigated these placements over the past year and found widespread and unaddressed issues (crimes?) in many of the 2,000 group homes. There were 100's of cases of clients who were sexually abused, beaten and taunted because of their disability. In many of the cases, employees (those trusted with the care of the most fragile people on earth) who committed these heinous offenses were transferred, rarely terminated.
In 2009, there were 13,000 documented allegations of abuse in state operated and licensed group homes. A mere 5% of those allegations were referred to law enforcement.
In a review of 399 disciplinary cases involving 233 workers who were accused of 1 of 7 serious offenses, the state was only successful in terminating 30 workers. Most offenders received fines, short suspensions or loss of vacation time. The reason: unionism.
The state of New York has no educational requirements for employees of groups homes for the disabled. Even some employees with criminal backgrounds were not disqualified from employment.
There is much blame to be spread. A lack of regulation and oversight by the State and a lack of adequate funding are probably contributing factors. Employment policies which allow people to be hired who shouldn't even be walking our streets are absent. First and foremost in the line of blame are unions who represent these employees. Any union which defends a person's employment status when they are accused of abuse of a disabled person is anti-American, anti-labor, anti-humanity. While I reluctantly respect the rights of unions to bargain for wages, hours and a limited number of conditions of employment, I know that unions defend (almost to at the death) the right an an employee to keep their job without consequences. I have seen it happen regularly in education where I was a high school principal for 30 years. I see it more clearly in the New York Times report where unions protected human garbage from loss of employment.
The very actionable offenses against the disabled are tolerated and defended because of the inability of the disabled to speak for themselves. The abuse and its defense is not a minor issue, it is a high crime against humanity. I have never really believed in capital punishment, but today I do! There is no place in a civilized society for any person who would abuse in any manner a disabled person. If I believed in a god who would judge and punish, I may feel a long-distance sense of relief in cosmic justice. Since I don't believe, it must be incumbent upon humanity to dispense justice on behalf of the disabled. That justice must extend to those who created this system, to those who have abused within the system and to those who protect the abusers and allow them to re-abuse. Yes, there is a place in our society for a public hanging in a very public square.
You can read the entire five page report at the following link, only if you have a very strong stomach or access to a bottle of tranquillizers: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/nyregion/13homes.html?_r=1