In an unusual child abuse case, two men who work at the Florida Youth Center in Largo were arrested for beating one of the juvenile delinquents. The center says the girl was being punished for talking after lights out. But, investigators have since discovered that it’s a ritual for girls to be beaten up by the staff the day before they’re released. The 16-year-old girl was one of them, and the bruises still showed 10 days later. According to a Tampa Tribune article, another girl was beaten the same night.
The strange thing is, even after investigators learned this, the state Department of Juvenile Justice has continued placing girls there. Catherine Arnold, spokeswoman for the department, said it doesn’t “have any evidence to indicate we need to make a decision to the contrary.”
How many girls will have to be found with bruises before officials realize there’s a problem? Two people have been arrested, but Largo police are still looking for another man. Besides, if this practice is common, many members of the staff could be involved. Until more investigations are completed and police are confident no other staff members were participating in the beatings, no new girls should be placed in the facility. Further, officers should be present at the place to make sure no beatings take place in the meantime.
When a young girl is beaten so badly that her bruises remain after 10 days, action needs to be taken to prevent it from happening again. If it was found that a foster mother beat one of the children in her house, not only would the state cease placing children there, it would take the other children out of the house.
The same principle should be applied in this case. Just because the girls are juvenile delinquents they should not be treated with any less decency than other children.